The National Veterans Art Museum
, formerly the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum
, located at 1801 S. Indiana Avenue in Chicago's South Loop is dedicated to displaying and studying art produced by veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...
s from the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...
and other wars and conflicts. Originally a traveling exhibition, while in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...
it was viewed by Mayor Richard M. Daley
Richard Michael Daley is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He was the longest serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his...
, who was so taken by the power of the art that he immediately insisted that the city provide a permanent home for it. When one first enters, one sees 58,226 dog tags
A dog tag is the informal name for the identification tags worn by military personnel, named such as it bears resemblance to actual dog tags. The tag is primarily used for the identification of dead and wounded and essential basic medical information for the treatment of the latter, such as blood...
hanging from the ceiling, representing the US soldiers who died in Vietnam- it and the other exhibits have been described as a deeply emotionally moving http://www.upchicago.com/the-national-vietnam-veterans-art-museum http://www.fnewsmagazine.com/2004-dec/current/pages/6.shtml
. Admission is $10, $7 for students, free for military and their families.
The National Veteran’s Art Museum is the culmination of the collective efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Art Group formed in 1981. The Vietnam Veterans Art Group built a following almost immediately after their first show, Vietnam: Reflexes and Reflections, opened in October 1981 at the N.A.M.E. gallery. With increasing popularity and press, the Group grew and veterans from all over the country began to answer the call to send in their work to be displayed. In 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Art Group found a home in the South Loop of Chicago, marking the establishment of the only museum of its kind.
The NVAM’s mission is to inspire greater understanding of the real impact of war through the collection, preservation and exhibition of art created by veterans of all U.S. military conflicts. For 30 years, the NVAM has been a unique site of military and artistic heritage, helping civilians and veterans alike make connections across diverse ranges of experience. With nearly 2,500 works of art by more than 250 artists, the NVAM offers visitors of all ages and backgrounds—including school groups, student nurses, scholars, mental health professionals, active military, veterans, military families and friends, and arts patrons—vital insight into war from the viewpoint of people who were physically and emotionally involved in military conflicts. In addition, the NVAM provides an artistic outlet for veterans to work through and express their combat and military service experiences.
Above & Beyond Memorial
The Above & Beyond Memorial was added to the museum’s permanent collection on Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War...
2001. The Memorial is a 10x40 foot sculpture composed of 58,000 imprinted dog tags-one for each of the service men and women who died in Vietnam. The tags are spaced one inch apart and suspended from fine lines, which creates a fluid, almost sheet-like mass of gleaming metal. The sculpture is mounted at the top of the 24-foot ceiling in the two-story atrium, defining the space in a most honorable and awe-inspiring way. Above & Beyond is the first new permanent Vietnam War memorial, other than The Wall in Washington, D.C., to list all those killed in action. Above & Beyond at the National Veterans Art Museum is a singular honor for Chicago. It was even the subject of a question on the TV show, Jeopardy, on Jan. 10, 2011.
The Things They Carried
The popularity of Tim O'Brien's book The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried is a collection of related stories by Tim O'Brien, about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War, originally published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin, 1990...
, especially among visiting students, was the inspiration to create a visual companion to illustrate the narrative with fine art and photography, from veterans that lived the stories in the novel. As the exhibit traveled to different venues, area veterans were pleased and honored to contribute the artifacts that provided the viewing public with a 'hands- on' component. Students experiencing the heft of flack jacket, field gear and steel pot, reached a new level of appreciation for the reality portrayed in the book.
Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions are upsetting or distressing, and can be difficult to manage or eliminate. Although they are commonly unseen, there are silent signs of our current occupations in our local communities, households, and memories. This show features work by veterans of Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...
, and the Global War on Terror that bring these signs from the shadows to the forefront and give these traumas a voice in the political and cultural discussion of today.
Nine individual artists and two creative troupes tackled such difficult issues as reintegration into the civilian community, the media’s depiction of military action, the role of political resistance, the emotional challenges of military occupation, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” women in combat, and the historical conflicts in the Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...
. The exhibit will remain on display through Veterans Day, 2011.
Jon Turner's "Prayer Boots," is an interactive piece that asks patrons to reflect on their relationship to war and to offer their meditations. Turner is a three-tour Marine Corps
A marine is a member of a force that specializes in expeditionary operations such as amphibious assault and occupation. The marines traditionally have strong links with the country's navy...
veteran whose work with the Combat paper project
The Combat Paper Project was a project formed to help veterans cope with past experiences in the war. It was based out of the Green Door Studio in Burlington, Vermont in the United States. Their processes include making paper out of their old uniforms to then create art on them as well as many...
is also on exhibit as part of "Intrusive Thoughts."
Angel in The Desert
A sculpture by Persian Gulf War veteran Marcus Eriksen. The statue is based on the artist's memory of a dying Iraqi waving his hands in the sand.
In order to keep up with the expectations of internet-connected and savvy audiences, the NVAM recognizes the need to make its collection available online. Therefore, the virtual museum initiative is designed to sustain the Museum's mission while reaching a wide—and wired—audience. Materials to be exhibited digitally include the museum's entire permanent collection of more than 2,000 pieces of art, interviews with the 255 artists who contributed to the collection and the museum's archive of historical documents, images of past exhibitions and video tours will be made available on the website. This project is made possible by a generous project grant for 2011 and a challenge grant for 2012-2014. More information on this grant and the challenge component will be made public in the next few weeks.
Since the start of this calendar year, the NVAM has made educational outreach a top priority. This emphasis focuses on area high school students, especially of the Chicago Public Schools system. Tours at the NVAM provide local students with an opportunity to experience art, to learn about the creative process and to gain a unique perspective on our society through discussions of military conflicts, how they impact the participants, and their place in a historical context with veteran artists whose work is represented in our collection. The National Veterans Art Museum is an important educational resource. Previous educational partners include: Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools, commonly abbreviated as CPS by local residents and politicians and officially classified as City of Chicago School District #299 for funding and districting reasons, is a large school district that manages over 600 public elementary and high schools in Chicago, Illinois...
, Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Chicago is one of the largest art colleges in the United States with nearly 12,000 students pursuing degrees within 120 undergraduate and graduate programs...
, Robert Morris University
Robert Morris University is a private, coeducational university in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1921, the school was named for Robert Morris, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and helped finance the ensuing war with the British.-History:Robert Morris...
, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago is a private Jesuit research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1870 under the title St...
, among others.
To support these developments and upcoming changes, the NVAM is re-launching its membership program. This revamped program provides new benefits to individuals, families, students, small companies, not-for-profit organizations and large corporations.
With more than 70 percent of United States museums at risk for buckling under economic stress, the state of small museums is rather vulnerable. The National Veterans Art Museum is no exception.
The NVAM's lease at 1801 S. Indiana Avenue in Chicago ends on April 30, 2012. In anticipation of the upcoming relocation, the museum will implement decentralized programming this year and establish a new hub facility in 2012. An ideal hub facility would be amenable to tourists and will allow for expanded programming as well as traditional and multimedia exhibits. A number of location options are under discussion and an announcement is expected this fall. In an effort to reinvigorate the Museum, the services and collections are expected to become a part of a proposed Veterans Cultural Center in Spring 2012. This new initiative is part of the Museum’s effort to stay vibrant and viable as both a resource & collection for Veterans and their families, in addition to anyone with an interest.
Board of Directors
(passed away April, 2011)