The Museo Italo Americano
of San Francisco is hosting an important exhibition from October 16, 2009 through January 17, 2010
. It's called "In Cerca di una Nuova Vita
". The exhibit is divided into three periods, each reflecting different economic and historical circumstances in Italy that pushed Italians, sometimes in greater and other times in smaller numbers to leave their country for the promise of a better life in California.
1. Period of mass migration until WWII, a period marked by a mass migration driven primarily by poverty. While most of these immigrants are no longer alive, their descendents have kept and treasured objects brought by their grandparents and great grandparents from Italy. These serve as reminders both of the deceased, of the struggles they lived through and of their descendents’ continuing tie with Italy, with the region, town or village their ancestors left behind.
2. Post WWII until 1970. This period, whose immigrants are by and large still alive, is marked by a diverse Italian presence. Italians arrived for different reasons and under different circumstances, many escaping a war ravaged Italy or joining relatives who had come before them. The objects they brought with them often reflect their middle class status and symbolized their emotional tie to Italy.
3. The period 1970 to the present is marked by the increasing presence of scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, their arrival spurred by the expansion of successful Italian companies, the favorable economic climate and the availability of research funds and of university positions in the United States. Many of these immigrants, knowing that they could return to Italy, may not at first have brought too much with them. Yet their choices, whether books, keepsakes or special photographs, reflected what they wanted to keep with them to remind them of the homeland they had left behind.
The popular Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" published a long report
of the "In Cerca di una Nuova Vita" exhibition on the Sunday 27 issue.