Benedictine hosts exhibit highlighting fall of communism, Velvet Revolution

August 22, 2014

Witness photo resizeLisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe by hosting a traveling exhibit highlighting the nonviolent “Velvet Revolution” protests that paved the way for the development of a more democratic and capitalist-based government in the former Czechoslovakia.

The exhibit, “Witness to the Revolution: Accounts from Americans Who Were There” will go on display from Wednesday, September 17 through Friday, October 10 in the Fr. Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B., Art Gallery. The showing is part of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and features eye-witness accounts, pictures and videos from a professor, student, news reporter and U.S. Embassy staff who were present for the demonstrations, which took place in Prague in the fall and winter of 1989.

The demonstrations, part of growing unrest throughout Eastern Europe, began after dozens of student protestors were beaten by police. They spawned a large organized movement calling for the Communist Party to relinquish power. The movement eventually forced the ouster of communist leaders and led to the country’s first democratic election since 1946.

Benedictine has unique ties to Eastern Europe. The University was founded more than 127 years ago in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago to provide students of Czech and Slovak descent with a values-based education. Today, the University’s student body is made up of more than 19 different religions, a minority student population which accounts for one-third of the University’s overall enrollment and students who represent 17 different countries.

“Benedictine is excited to be hosting this special exhibit, partly because of the University’s strong connection to the Czech and Slovak culture, and also because it showcases a major turning-point in world history that was documented by people who witnessed the various movements that led to the end of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia,” said Teresa J. Parker, curator of the Art Gallery and University Art Collection at Benedictine.

“It is full of dramatic and fascinating pictures, film and letters that help to put into greater perspective the chain of events that led to the dawn of a new era in Eastern Europe,” she added.

A special opening reception for the exhibit will be held from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 20.

The gallery’s regular hours of operation are 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment for special groups.

For more information, contact Parker at (630) 829-6270 or tparker@ben.edu, or Cathy Gaddis at (630) 829-6320 or cgaddis@ben.edu. Information is also available at ben.edu/artgallery.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 16 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.


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