Press Releases

Chicago History Museum Explores Chicago’s Polish Communities in Expansive New Exhibition

Apr 19 2023

Experience the duality of feeling a deep connection to two places at once through firsthand storytelling.

CHICAGO (April 19, 2023) Through the lens of Chicago’s Polish communities, the Chicago History Museum invites guests to experience the journeys immigrants have taken to get to our city. Including the ways people established themselves as a community in area neighborhoods and the duality of feeling a deep connection to two places at once. Back Home: Polish Chicago opens at the Chicago History Museum May 20, 2023.

“We hope that visitors will see Polish Chicago history as dynamic and ongoing and find stories in the exhibition that resonate with them,” says Peter Alter exhibition curator and Chief Historian at the Chicago History Museum. Chicago History Museum Project Historian Dominic Pacyga says, “Most Chicagoans know that the city has long had a large Polish population, but few realize Polonia’s long and complex history. This exhibition will allow Polish Americans and others to not simply celebrate the past, but to understand it, and place the Polish Chicago experience within a larger historical context. The extensive collection of artifacts, illustrations, maps, and personal histories in exhibit all help to illuminate this fascinating history.”

Back Home: Polish Chicago is a social history of Chicagoland’s Polish communities that uses first-person narratives and experiences to interpret over 150 years of history. Visitors will be able to listen to oral history snippets in a music and interview kiosk and read Polish Chicagoans’ words throughout the gallery, including in large wall quotations and in explanatory text. Art installations from five local Polish artists will also be incorporated. These art thresholds are placed throughout the exhibition between thematic sections and represent a culturally potent visual metaphor for the theme of moving between states of being, in the duality of Polish American identity and experience.

The exhibition will travel to Warsaw, Poland after showing at CHM. Polish History Museum Project Historian Joanna Wojdon says of this partnership, “The exhibition offers an opportunity to bring together the Polish and American experiences of the Polish American community of Chicago.” Photographs from the Dwell Studio project Kalejdoskop Polski, highlighting prominent members of Chicago’s Polish community will also be shown. When borrowing artifacts from families, organizations, and individuals for display, CHM has worked very closely with the lenders to make sure their stories and those of their ancestors are accurately and respectfully represented.

Members of the media are invited to preview the exhibition and interview the curators the week prior to opening. Visits can be scheduled for May 15-19 from 9:00am-5:00pm with Public Communications Manager, Veronica Casados at

Back Home: Polish Chicago is a collaborative project and oral history initiative with the Polish History Museum (Warsaw, Poland), Polish Museum of America, and Loyola University Chicago Polish Studies program.

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