Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Italian American Museum Proposed for New York City

I recently just read in the New York Times about third generation Italian American Joseph Grano Jr., who recently began raising capital with investors for a new Italian American Museum in New York. Now, as you know there's an Italian American Museum already located in Little Italy, New York. The existing museum is definitely low key with no modern day amenities but a wonderful contribution and landmark to our Italian American community in New York City.

The proposed idea for the new museum would include an amphitheater, private rooms, exhibit galleries and much more-- the location would be a 124-year-old Victorian pier in Lower Manhattan.

I love the idea and hopefully the reality of a new cultural landmark celebrating Italian Americans in New York. This is a great example of someone in the right position utilizing his social and monetary capital to memorialize and educate younger Italian American generations.

Once the museum is built and at full capacity, I would like to see the museum being integrated into Italian education programs throughout the country. Now a days, "build it and they will come" isn't enough. We have to be sure just because it looks good on paper that Italian Americans are really getting the education and a use for the museum. It can't be a billion dollar boys club where private parties and Italian American cliques are the only people involved with it, there needs to be a sense of community. The Italian American community at times can be very divided here in the tri-state area. Being or knowing particular people always seem to get you in the right doors and such-- but to be honest its such a turn off and really takes away from learning the traditions and history of Italian Americans. I witness this constantly within the online social media circles, as Italian Americans we need to be more united and deliver consistent messaging, whether via a blog post or building a million dollar museum.

For more on the New York Times Article:


Unknown said...

An Italian American Museum is long overdue, but I suspect, one that satisfies us may never come. A successful and satisfying IA museum in my mind would be devoted to telling the story of Italians in America, the majority of us the children, grandchildren, etc. of poor southern Italian laborers, artisans, etc. Our story is extremely complex, and so a museum would have to deal with the conditions in Italy that led nearly 30 million people to leave it from the time Italy was created (roughly) in 1870 to the present; it would have to deal with the diverse experiences of Italian immigrants (not just in cities, but also as migrant farm workers, coal miners, etc.); and it would have to deal with experiences of discrimination (the creation of literacy tests and monetary requirements in immigration law to limit southern Italians and other undesirables, discrimination in federal immigration law in 1925, discrimination in the Catholic Churches, etc.). These are just some of the areas. Now, what does Joe Grano propose? He wants a chariot and a Ferrari in the window. Clearly he doesn't realize or appreciate our history here (nor does he understand that for a southern Italian, Roman history is not our history). He would be better served by putting a statue of his poor, laboring grandfather (assuming he had one) and himself, a rich Wall Street type. Now there's the "evolution" of the Italian American. The one on Mulberry Street, on the other hand, is run by an ego-maniac who has alienated every capable person, and as a result he's running a glorified broom closet over there. The problem in both cases: IA who don't realize that in order to make a museum work, it needs to be directed by capable management that employ a scholarly vision (we have many IA historians, folklorists, etc. where are they?), and an able curator. Some people say, look at the progress we've made; I say, look at all we've lost!

Margaret said...

Ciao Pino,

I have to say that is very detailed comment and with many important points. Thank you for your feedback and contributing these valuable points. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Thank you again,

Italianthro said...

>>> "for a southern Italian, Roman history is not our history"

How so? The Italic tribes of Central Italy, out of which the Roman people emerged, extended into parts of the South and Sicily, and the Romans themselves expanded southward before going north. The rest of Southern Italy had been part of Magna Graecia, which played a big role in the diffusion of Hellenic civilization into Italy, which in turn impacted the development of Ancient Roman culture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing such an important news on your post..I was not aware of it..I always appreciate your post..This is first time I am commenting on your post..This will be a great news for people they are getting the new museum over there..What are the reviews about it among people..Any idea?
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