Celebrate Cleveland’s Cultural Richness at the Maltz Museum

Cleveland Cultural Gardens Highlighted at October exhibition and festival

Cleveland, Ohio (September 1, 2009) – Eat, dance, learn, connect.  Throughout October, the Maltz Museum celebrates our community’s rich, diverse heritage with Cleveland: A Celebration of Cultures, an exhibition and festival with multicultural artifacts, native dress, a display on the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, performances, lectures, activities, food and fun.

“We’re so lucky to live here, where any night of the week you can attend a lecture on neighborhoods, enjoy a musical or performance or feast on delicacies from around the world.  We take it for granted, because Cleveland’s diversity is a lucky fact of our lives.  We’re more alike than different, but with our own traditions.  We celebrate those similarities and the unique differences,” says Judi Feniger, Executive Director.

An exhibit on the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, curated by the Museum and Cleveland State University, shines a proud spotlight on this treasure covering 1.5 miles in University Circle’s Rockefeller Park.  The gardens were created as a lasting tribute to peace, harmony and mutual understanding.  They have been the site of countless parades, weddings, operas, dances and celebrations, and hosted dignitaries from around the world (learn more at www.culturalgardens.org).  A renewed interest in their continued vitality has led to establishment of new gardens and revitalization of others in recent years.

The visionary behind the gardens was Leo Weidenthal, an editor of the Jewish Independent (later The Cleveland Jewish News, which was founded by his brother, Maurice).  They were begun in the early 1900s as a response to the xenophobia of the times; the first of the nationality gardens was the Hebrew Garden, established in 1926.

Dr. Mark Tebeau, Department of History, Cleveland State University, notes, “These gardens reveal the history of immigration to, and migration within, the United States, stories of the major conflicts that gave shape to the century and insight into the large social, economic, political and cultural upheavals that roiled through the nation during the last century, including the Great Depression, suburbanization, the Civil Rights Movement, and the deindustrialization of America’s heartland.”

In addition to the exhibition on the gardens, items from different nationalities will be displayed, and performances held throughout the month.  A study of Dante (Italian), Estonian jewelry, Indian Tablas, an Armenian stone cross and a Slovenian wedding dress are a few of the items on display, loaned by various cultural groups.

Tap your heels to Irish Step Dancers, join a Bollywood-style finale with an Indian dance group, take an inside look at the restoration of the Greek Garden or a look ahead to the 100th anniversary of the British Garden, learn about  opera from many lands, or listen to a distinguished panel of immigration experts debate immigration in America today.

The community kick-off is September 30, 4-6 pm, with an outdoor sukkah raising (a Jewish festive harvest booth), free and open to the public.  Sample pastries from many lands and a variety of programs and tours each Sunday, beginning with the second annual Jewish Food and Culture Festival October 4.  There are also programs each Wednesday evening and others during the week, and guided tours. Check the website often or call for details and program additions.