Refugee exhibition opens Feb. 8 at Fairfield Museum

Hungarian family —Photo by by Caren Winnal

Hungarian family —Photo by by Caren Winnal

At a time when the role of immigrants and refugees in American life is the subject of intense debate, a new and timely exhibition, An American Story: Finding Home in Fairfield County, opens in the Fairfield Museum & History Center’s Spaght Gallery on Thursday, Feb. 8.

The exhibition, which also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), highlights the experiences of people who have built new lives in the area. A series of photographic portraits and biographical narratives show how eight individuals from across the globe have created a sense of home in Fairfield County. The immigrants and refugees featured in the exhibition come from Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Hungary, India, Rwanda and Syria.

“Immigrants and refugees have long enriched our state, providing social and cultural diversity, innovation and human resources to drive our economy,” said Claudia Connor, CIRI president and CEO.  “In the current environment, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition is particularly important as it reminds us that immigration is the most American story there is. These beautiful pictures illustrate the courage, determination and resilience that refugees and immigrants bring with them not only to Fairfield County but to America as a whole.”

A variety of programs, films and lectures will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition throughout its nearly six-month run. All of these events will be open to the public. The exhibition closes on July 23.

Mike Jehle, the Fairfield Museum’s executive director said, “We are honored to partner with CIRI to celebrate how refugees and immigrants have been vital community builders throughout our history, and to explore how we all can become more informed participants in this national dialogue. As southwestern Connecticut’s premier community center, the Fairfield Museum engages with important, topical issues that define our community today and into the future.”

Photographs in the exhibition are by Caren Winnall. The Fairfield Museum would also like to extend special thanks to Lynne Penczer, who conducted interviews with each of the individuals profiled in the exhibition.

About the Fairfield Museum and History Center

Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Fairfield Museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted for free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit The Fairfield Museum is an independent, dynamic non-profit museum, library, cultural arts and educational organization founded in 1903 that provides individuals and families with a wide array of exhibitions and educational programs that teach regional history, celebrate a shared heritage, and prepare students and adults to be active participants in their community. The Museum relies on funding from individuals, corporations and foundations and is especially grateful for leadership support from the State of Connecticut, Town of Fairfield and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.

About Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants

The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), founded in 1918, is a statewide nonprofit human services agency that helps people integrate into American life, rebuild their lives and achieve sustainable self-reliance. The organization’s mission is to help refugees, immigrants and survivors of torture and human trafficking resolve the linguistic, economic and educational barriers to being self-sufficient, integrated and contributing members of their communities. Between 2016-2017,  CIRI resettled 216 refugees in Connecticut. In 2017, CIRI provided immigration legal services to 2,763 clients, and guided 341 lawful permanent residents through the citizenship application process.. CIRI also provides special services to victims of serious crimes such as human trafficking, torture, and domestic violence. In 2017, CIRI assisted over 41 human trafficking victims and 37 survivors of torture.

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