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Mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading the Daily News election results in 1941.

CUNY Trustees approve affiliation agreement with Italian American Museum

John D. Calandra Italian American Institute & the Italian American Museum

Contact: Maria Fosco
(212) 642-2020

December 18, 2003 - New York, The City University's Board of Trustees has approved an Affiliation Agreement with the Italian American Museum. The agreement received unanimous approval at the Board's meeting on December 1, 2003.

The Italian American Museum is dedicated to promoting constructive pluralism by educating Americans about the heritage of Italian Americans and their European roots, values, language and traditions. A tax-exempt education corporation, the museum is temporarily located in space at CUNY's John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at 28 West 44th Street, 17th Floor. The Museum is actively searching for a permanent home in New York City.

The Affiliation Agreement with the Italian American Museum involves CUNY, Queens College, and the Calandra Institute. The Calandra Institute contains an important archival collection of books, journals, photographs, maps, audio and video collections, and other materials that document the Italian American experience. Joining those with the resources of the Museum will create an important new location for research and scholarship about Italians and Italian Americans.

Since its founding on June 12, 2001, the Museum has presented a series of successful exhibits including, “The Italians of New York: The Immigrant Experience,” “Prisoners in Our Own Home: The Italian American Experience as America’s Enemy Aliens,” “Behind Barbed Wire: Angelo Spinelli’s Photo-documentation on Life and Culture in a POW Stalag Camp,” and “Italian Opera: Celebrating the Centennial of Enrico Caruso’s American Debut.”

The idea for the affiliation with the University was put forth by CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein in an address to the Coalition of Italo American Associations last March. “When you look at some of the very prominent museums around these United States,” he said, “the ones that are doing extraordinary work are the ones that are connected with universities.” He added, “This wonderful new Museum will recount the Italian experience and the Italian American experience with The City University of New York.”

Chancellor Goldstein described CUNY as “an institution that has a rich heritage of bringing together all ethnic and racial groups, and we celebrate that.” He added, “We haven’t celebrated the Italian experience enough.” An affiliation with the Italian American Museum, however, will help rectify that situation.

It is anticipated that the Museum exhibits will provide a special focus for faculty and student projects involving the Italian American heritage and experience. It will attract distinguished visitors, offer scholars a venue for lectures and seminars, and serve to enhance and strengthen the Calandra Institute’s academic, intellectual, and artistic resources. Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Vice President of Queens College and President of the Italian American Museum said, “I am encouraged and excited by this latest development. The University affiliation is a sign of recognition that few Museums in this country have obtained. I look forward to a long and mutual relationship with the CUNY.”

The Affiliation Agreement cites a number of possible joint activities among the Museum, CUNY, and the Calandra Institute. They include:
• Internships at the Museum for CUNY students;
• Preservation and interpretation of the Archives and other Museum collections;
• Development of educational materials and programs;
• Lectures, seminars, musical programs, film festivals, theater, and art exhibitions;
• Educational study and travel programs to Italy;
• Activities in conjunction with local schools and cultural institutions;
• Creation of pre-doctoral, dissertation and post-doctoral fellowships;
• Creation of faculty fellowships for research and scholarship.

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