“This has been a journey in and of itself. I am so grateful for all those who have joined with me to tell their story,” Renée Lastra , co-chair of the exhibit host committee, said.
The exhibit was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by Lastra.
At the opening ceremony Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said, “Pass it on to your friends, this is a great educational exhibit and something the community is proud of.”
State Rep. Kevin Brooks said he came to the exhibit “not as a state representative” but “as a dad who loves to take my kids to the Smithsonian.”
He also said it was amazing for the Smithsonian to come to Cleveland. He was particularly interested in the Journeys of Faith week that will start Aug. 24.
According to Christian Höferle, president of Ocoee Regional Multicultural Services, the exhibit “has truly been a community effort.”
“My family — we are immigrants ourselves and we thank you for being here. Enjoy,” Höferle said.
Display cases outside the community room will hold local artifacts that will change from week to week.
The first week’s theme is Native American Journeys. Throughout the exhibit, there will be guides to help people get started and to answer any questions.
Gerry Hall, a guide, said the exhibit is “a good learning experience for those who go through it and (those hosting) too.”
Hall was especially interested in the Trail of Tears and the building of the Railroad from East to West.
Each week will feature special events. Native American Journeys will have presentations by Russell Townsend, a tribal historic preservation officer for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, Monday at 7 p.m. and by Jaimie Russell, a Cherokee flutist, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The schedule for coming weeks includes Journeys of Faith, Aug. 21 through 27; Journeys initiated by Industrialization, Aug. 28 through Sept. 3; African Americans’ Journeys, Sept. 4 through 10; Journeys of War and Depression, Sept. 11 through 17; and a Mosaic — Journeys of Immigrants, Sept. 18 through 24.