Be a part of our upcoming community exhibit From the Subcontinent to the Prairie: Stories of Immigration and Identity overview image

Be a part of our upcoming community exhibit From the Subcontinent to the Prairie: Stories of Immigration and Identity

  • Post Date: 11/09/2018
  • Author: Beth Watkins
  • Reading Time: 4 minute read

In conjunction with Spurlock Museum’s participation in a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program focusing on the novel The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Museum is excited to announce a community exhibit. From the Subcontinent to the Prairie: Stories of Immigration and Identity (January 25–May 19, 2019) will share stories from individual members from campus and local South Asian and South Asian-American communities. The Namesake’s themes of immigration and cultural identity are deeply relevant to the Champaign-Urbana and campus communities. 

The Museum is seeking to borrow objects to display in this exhibit and help create deeper, richer understanding of the cultural experiences and identities of community members. Objects, documents, and photographs can connect us to other people, no matter how far away in time or place.

Share your story

Do you have an object that you would like to loan to the Museum for display in this exhibit? Objects of many shapes, sizes, and materials could be a great fit for this exhibit. To go on display, an object should be relatively durable, small enough to be carried by one person, and appropriate for the general public to view (for example, we cannot limit access to the exhibit by age of visitor).

We’ll need a few weeks of time to work with your object to make sure it is displayed safely and attractively. We ask that community loans be delivered to the Museum by December 11, 2018. We will arrange drop-off with you. We will return the objects to you after the exhibit closes on May 19, 2019. 

In order to share the story of you and your object(s) and explore the themes of The Namesake, we’ll ask you: 

  • Basic information about your object(s), such as where it came from and why it’s meaningful to you.
  • When did you/your family arrive in Champaign-Urbana?
  • What is the story of your name?

Your answers can be as short or as long as you like! This information will help us write labels that accompany your object(s) in the exhibit. We’ll also credit you as the lender of the object in the label, or you may be anonymous at your request. 

Would you rather share a photograph or document? We’d love to include it! We’ll work with you to digitize your item(s) so they can be reproduced in an exhibit label. 

Contact exhibit coordinator Beth Watkins at or 217-265-5485 with any questions or to discuss a loan.  

Big Read program

Other components of this exhibit are two displays borrowed from other agencies: The Indian American Experience in Chicago from the Indo-American Heritage Museum (Chicago) and Memories and Milestones from the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (external link). All of the programs related to the Big Read are free and open to the public. An online calendar of Big Read programming is available. A limited number of free copies of the book will be available from the Museum and our partner libraries later this fall (Champaign Public Library, The Urbana Free Library, and the International and Area Studies Library on campus).

  • mithila style painting
    Mithila Style Painting, Bihar, India, mid- or late 20th c. Estate of Robert E. Brown.
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