In Italian, sentieri Italiani means "Italian paths"—something with which Daniela Cavallero is very familiar. A native of Italy's Piemonte region, Cavallero imagined a place where she could bestow the rich heritage and language of her homeland upon the citizens of her new home in Chicago. She spun her vision into a reality, summoning a squadron of fluent Italian speakers to lead Sentieri Italian's language and culture classes. During each lesson, these well-versed instructors strive to teach pupils of all experience levels more than just language skills—they also give them a thorough rundown of Italian culture and history.
The team also spreads its wealth of knowledge of all things Italian beyond the classroom. To prep travelers for annual excursions to Italy, staffers devise detailed cultural training to ensure travelers know basic phrases and can quickly catch leaning towers. They also arrange regular cultural and dining events and organize a trove of services, including translations, genealogical studies, and assistance in procuring Italian citizenship.
The Evanston History Center covers the history of the town of Evanston?but with roots going back nearly 120 years, the center almost deserves a historical society of its own. It's headquartered in the National Landmark home of Charles Gates Dawes, the Vice President under Calvin Coolidge and a descendent of a family that immigrated to the Americas in 1635. In addition to the physical building and the collection of art and artifacts, the Center also leads walking architecture tours, yoga and music performances, and ice cream socials.
A Swedish immigrant himself, Kurt Mathiasson took it upon himself to found an institution that would preserve the legacy of the Swedish-American experience within Chicago. The Andersonville-neighborhood leader opened the original Swedish American Museum in a storefront log cabin in 1976, receiving the blessing of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, who personally attended the ceremonies. Just over one decade later, the museum moved to its present Clark Street location, giving it both the space and the means to continue its mission of celebrating Swedish heritage and the experiences of Chicago's Swedish immigrants.
The three-story museum's permanent collection boasts roughly 12,000 artifacts. These historical pieces include original passports and steamship tickets, household items that immigrants brought to the New World, and various folk crafts. Within the museum's permanent exhibits, these artifacts provide visitors with valuable insight into the struggles and triumphs of Swedish immigrants as they established a new, vibrant community within Chicago.
Beyond the permanent exhibit, the institution also features the Brunk Children?s Museum of Immigration, which provides youngsters of all ages with hands-on opportunities to experience life in a replica of a Swedish farmhouse. Youths collect firewood, learn to milk a cow, and connect to the internet using a crank-powered modem. From there, children can board a 20-foot model of a steamship, which mimics the journey across the Atlantic and then teaches passengers about the log-cabin lifestyles of America's frontier settlers. The Swedish American Museum's Nordic Family Genealogy Center provides yet another service for interested visitors, giving them the opportunity to research their families' Scandinavian heritage.
Students upload working knowledge of various art forms in digital-arts and photography classes, the newest department at Lillstreet Art Center. During a digital-video class, instructors begin with a translation of camera controls and settings before showing students how to import video to the computer, edit footage, add sound and music, and put completed projects onto DVD, the Internet, or viewer-friendly blimps. The crash course in Adobe Photoshop, a software program used by many photographers and graphics professionals, introduces students to the various tools and menus through a gamut of in-class exercises that practice scanning, painting, cutting, and adjusting imagery. Tote confusing cameras to the digital-photography class, and harness the power of ISO, shutter speeds, apertures, and different shooting modes to take photos that look more professional than a snapshot clad in a business suit. Several hands-on exercises assimilate amateur eyes to the difference between auto and manual focus, as well as depth of field and capturing moving subjects.
It started in 1977, with a donation by philanthropists John Mayo and Betty Seabury Mitchell of approximately 3,000 artifacts to found the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. Since its inception, the museum has sought to broaden the public's understanding of the continent's cultural diversity of American Indian and First Nation peoples. To that end, it showcases the historical and artistic achievements of the Native American and First Nations peoples of the present-day United States and Canada.
Donations over the decades have helped swell the meticulously preserved permanent collection to more than 10,000 objects. Consisting of pieces from tribes throughout the Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Arctic regions of North America, the collection has a broad-based appeal for researchers, knowledge-hungry visitors, and the culturally curious. Baskets, pottery, clothing, paintings, beadwork, carvings, and archaeological and ethnographic artifacts dating from Paleo-Indian times to the present fill the display cases. Additionally, the museum features special areas where guests can touch and handle Native-made tools and raw materials?including snakeskins, birch bark, and turquoise?that the Native American and First Nations peoples historically would have used in everyday life. Temporary exhibits explore specific themes, such as the cultural identity of mixed race Native peoples and the traditions of storytelling in Native culture.