Exhibits celebrate black, Italian history

A feather mask on display as part of Ethnic Heritage Museum's exhibit.

Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., unveils the exhibits Sunday, Feb. 7

From press release

Sunday, Feb. 7, the Ethnic Heritage Museum will unveil two new exhibits in the African-American and Italian galleries depicting life in the 1800s.

Most Americans are aware of what life was like for black people before the Civil War. The African-American Gallery’s “African-American Life Post-Civil War” will spotlight life after the Civil War.

“African-American Life Post-Civil War” will showcase items used and owned by African-Americans from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

On display will be several items on loan from Dr. and Mrs. Robert Head. Dr. Head is the first African-American president of Rockford College. In March 2009, the local daily did a story about Mrs. Head’s collection of items owned by her family. This display will showcase some of those items.

The African-American Gallery is proud to announce that Rockford Public Library (RPL) has donated to the museum a notebook-format reproduction of “African-Americans in Rockford—Lincoln’s Era,” the original exhibit the library’s Adult Services Department created in 2009.

The RPL exhibit was planned in connection with the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Winnebago County, and is based on the book African-Americans in Early Rockford, 1834-1871, by John L. Molyneaux. The following RPL staff contributed research and writing for the exhibit: Jan Carter, Amanda Gardner, Janella Harper Herbig, Jean Lythgoe, Zoe Norwood, Janet Shook and Gretchen Threet. This notebook will also be included in the display.

In the Italian Gallery, learn about Carnevale! See beautiful Italian costumes typically worn during the 1800’s city-wide festival. This was an exciting time of daring, crowded streets filled with revelry, music and royalty hiding behind colorfully glorious masks!

On display will be masks purchased in Venice, the “Queen of the Adriatic.” Learn why they call Carnevale the time when “One becomes Any One!”

From 2 to 3:30 p.m., Feb. 21, the legends of Puncinella and Harliquino will come alive in the Italian Gallery with a Power Point presentation.

The Ethnic Heritage Museum, at 1129 S. Main St., in Rockford, is a six-room house built in the 1850s. Six different ethnic groups sponsor a room or gallery in the house: African-American, Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish and Hispanic. A visit to each of the galleries will enlighten visitors of the values and traditions of each of these groups.

The Museum is open every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. The “African-American Life Post-Civil War” exhibits will be on display until the end of March. The “Carnevale” exhibit in the Italian Gallery will be on display until the end of April.

Admission to these unique views of our history is free to all members. For non-members, donations will be appreciated.

Group tours can be arranged by contacting the museum at (815) 962-7402 or by e-mailing ehm1129@comcast.net.

For more information, visit www.ethnicheritagemuseum.org or e-mail ehm1129@comcast.net.

From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue

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