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New Blog Navy Pier Partners with Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center to Unveil New Outdoor Exhibit, “Stories of Survival,” Highlighting Personal Stories and Cherished Keepsakes of Holocaust and Genocide Survivors

CHICAGO— Navy Pier, in partnership with Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, today opened its newest exhibit, “Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory.” The exhibit will be on display outdoors for the first time at Navy Pier’s Polk Bros. Park for guests to experience from Thursday, April 7 through Thursday, June 30.

The powerful exhibition, made possible by Lead Sponsors Fifth Third Bank and United Airlines, and curated by Illinois Holocaust Museum, showcases more than 50 personal artifacts brought to America as families fled persecution and war. “Stories of Survival” features powerful collaborative artworks by celebrated photographer Jim Lommasson and survivors of the Holocaust (including from Ukraine) and seven other genocides, including those in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, South Sudan and Syria. Admission is free, as part of Navy Pier’s nonprofit mission.

“A suitcase. A sweater. A Teddy bear with one eye. The personal things exhibited in Stories of Survival—very small things when measured against the enormity of war—are items that real people held close to provide comfort, connection and identity,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “This powerful installation offers insightful answers about individual survivors, but it also stirs meaningful questions. What would you take with you?”

Illinois Holocaust Museum CEO Susan Abrams adds, “The exhibition allows the viewer to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience through their eyes the effort to hold on to cherished memories while adapting to new circumstances. The exhibition poignantly shows our common humanity across geography and time.”

Examples of stories to discover throughout the exhibit include but are not limited to:

  • Mirsad Causevic, who was captured by Serb forces in 1992 and was sent first to the notorious Omarska concentration camp and then to a second camp at Manjaca. He managed to save the set of playing cards and recipes displayed in the exhibit.
  • Ralph Rehbock, who escaped death in Germany with his family in 1938 and saved his family’s cherished train set.
  • Immaculee Mukantaganira, who lost her husband, her two daughters, many relatives and friends in the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. She recovered from her daughters’ discovered gravesite meaningful items of clothing. A family photo album brought to the United States with Immaculee also is on display.

The “Stories of Survival” exhibit is funded through a special partnership with the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. 

"We are proud to support this moving exhibit. Holocaust Remembrance and Education is in a moment of transition. Now, 77 years removed from the Holocaust, many of the survivors are leaving us. We have a responsibility to rethink and reshape how we remember the Holocaust,” said Consul General Yinam Cohen, Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. “It is crucial that more people learn of the hardships as a result of heartbreaking genocides as well as the uplifting stories of perseverance by those who endured them.”

Additional Supporting Sponsors of the exhibition include David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, Chicago Free For All Fund, Joan & Bill Brodsky and Family, AON, and the Women's Leadership Committee of Illinois Holocaust Museum. A full list of sponsors can be found below.

Special Illinois Holocaust Museum-curated programs are planned for Wednesday, April 27 and Wednesday, June 8. To learn more about “Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory,” click here.

All events subject to change or cancellation. Currently, face masks and proof of vaccination are not required to attend Navy Pier events. Navy Pier will align with the City of Chicago’s COVID mandates as they are updated.

For “Stories of Survival” images for media use (courtesy of Illinois Holocaust Museum), click here. 

To discover more upcoming spring events happening at Navy Pier, click here.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE NAVY PIER PRESS KIT, INCLUDING B-ROLL, PHOTOS AND LOGO.

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Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2021, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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