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Slovenian Museum and Archives News

Slovenian Records, Artifacts Have New Home At Slovenian Museum And Archives

July 22 , 2008

After spending more than a century as the primary destination for Slovenian immigrants, Cleveland finally has a permanent home for the items telling the story of Slovenian heritage – both past and present.

The Slovenian Museum and Archives (SMA), which was officially dedicated June 22, will house records, articles, documents, textiles, photographs, and other research materials documenting the experiences of its Slovenian immigrant community. Although centered on Cleveland, which is home to the largest population of Slovenians outside the country itself, the museum and archives also includes artifacts and records from the other Slovenian communities throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

The SMA explores the rich history of Slovenians in America, starting with the immigrant experience and family histories, and continuing to the establishment of Slovenian neighborhoods, cultural and musical groups, churches and religious associations, and fraternal organizations.

The SMA was founded, developed and is managed entirely by a board of members of the Cleveland-Slovenian community, ensuring accuracy and personal dedication to the endeavor. Slovenian items and artifacts will continuously be on display, rather than saved solely for special exhibits as part of a larger collection. The executive board has been meeting for more than a year and a half to achieve continuity and ensure that the SMA lasts for future generations of Slovenians. Items donated to the SMA will be preserved professionally with knowledge, care and attention to detail.

The office and information center, which is part of the museum, archives and library, is located at 6415 St. Clair Ave. The museum itself will be housed within the Slovenian National Home.

Once completed, the SMA will contain the archives and a library for researchers from the United States and abroad, as well as the museum for visitors curious about Slovenian culture and heritage.

The event on June 22 saw Slovenian Ambassador to the United States Samuel Zbogar officially unveil the dedication plaque for the SMA, as well as a program featuring a presentation from architect Anthony Hiti, who explained the plans for the future, and speeches from SMA President Robert Hopkins and Johanna Bajc, who spoke on behalf of the Consulate General of the Republic of Slovenia. The program also included the singing of the Slovenian and American national anthems by Fantje na Vasi and Mi Smo Mi under the direction of John Srsen, as well as a dance performance by Folklorna Skupina Kres.

The well-attended event included tours of the new offices with displays by the Slovenian Genealogy Society and the Slovenian Art Guild. Tours were also conducted at the mansion, located at 6409 St. Clair Ave., which will house artwork from the early days of the Slovenian-American communities.

The main hall of the Slovenian National Home provided a glimpse of the museum exhibitions to come upon completion of the SMA. The exhibits were divided into four displays, each conveying an element of the Slovenian culture, and included the immigrant experience, fraternal organizations, Slovenian religious life and Senator Frank Lausche. The exhibits were filled with items that were on temporary loan to the SMA, and included a desk formerly used by Senator Lausche, which was on loan from the Slovene Home for the Aged.

Fraternal organizations no longer in existence were the feature of that exhibit, which included banners, certificates and a tree stump from the Woodsman of the World. Father Joze Boznar and Father John Kumse graciously loaned the SMA items for the religious and church exhibit, including antique vestments, hymnals and photos.

Additional literature was provided by the Slovenian Consulate regarding the changing face of Slovenia today, particularly their presidency of the European Union earlier this year.

The museum is now dedicated and will soon be staffed and is open to donations and to any volunteers. There is also still time to become a founding member. Thus far there are more than 40 founding memberships representing individuals, corporations and companies. Substantial grants came from the Republic of Slovenia, the Richmond Brothers Foundation and the City of Cleveland. The SMA looks forward to reaching its goal of 100 founding members by the end of this year.

Suggested items for donation include photos and film, artwork, clothing and textiles, national costumes, family treasures brought from Europe, musical instruments, music, family histories, maps, books, postcards, audio recordings and documents from Slovenian organizations, among others. Those who wish to make a donation can call with any ideas for further information.

The committee reminds all that now is the time to be a part of this exciting venture, to celebrate and preserve our Slovenian Heritage in a permanent location within the Slovenian community.

To make a donation to the Slovenian Museum and Archives – either with materials or financial contributions, please call 216-361-5601 or toll free 877-361-4SMA, or email [email protected].

Slovenian Museum & Archives