National Indo-American Museum Opens at Umang and Paragi Patel Center in Lombard, Illinois
People visiting the Umang and Paragi Patel Center in Lombard, Illinois, Oct. 15, where the National Indo-American Museum was inaugurated. (photo provided)
India-West Staff Reporter
The National Indo-American Museum, which builds bridges across generations and connects cultures through the diverse colorful stories of Indian Americans, was inaugurated Oct. 15 at the Umang and Paragi Patel Center in Lombard, Illinois.
The occasion occurred 13 years after its inception in 2008, a news release noted.
Founding members, board members, major donors, supporters, prominent state officials and others gathered at the museum for a “sneak preview” evening of celebration prior to the museum’s official opening Oct. 16.
President Deven Kane opened the festivities, celebrating NIAM’s first physical building, an important milestone for a community organization.
He thanked NIAM’s major donors, Dr. Umang and Paragi Patel, for their generous gift of the building. A longtime supporter of the museum, Umang spoke of the significance of the moment and NIAM’s journey in reaching this milestone, the news release said.
Also speaking at the event was Consul General of India in Chicago Amit Kumar, joined by his wife Surabhi Kumar. The CG spoke about the value of NIAM’s physical presence. He struck a chord with listeners by remarking that, in a job that entails movement every few years, as a family they always make sure to create a “little India” and remain connected to their roots wherever they go, according to the news release.
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi shared encouraging remarks about the relevance of organizations like NIAM. He noted that the number of Indian Americans has been increasing steadily, fast approaching the 5 million mark and making it among the fastest-growing immigrant communities, according to the 2020 Census, the release said.
He also noted that the community is among the most educated and economically thriving, with an increasing influence across both major U.S. political parties, the release said.
Shaurya Kumar, chair of faculty and associate professor at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, talked about the museum’s opening exhibition, E/Merge: Art of the Indian Diaspora, made possible with major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
As curator, Kumar explained how he “attempted to challenge preconceptions of what and how we represent ourselves and our histories through this exhibition.” E/Merge artists Kuldeep Singh and Nandita Raman spoke about their work, vision and influences against the backdrop of their rich lived experiences.
NIAM board member and major donor Sujaya Rupani, who praised the 18-plus months of time, commitment and effort by a diligent project team, served as host for the evening. Former board member and founding member Lakshmi Menon took to the stage with fellow founding members Padma Rangaswamy, Dorothie Shah, Harpreet Datt, Gyan Agarwal and Prem Sharma. NIAM’s office manager and program coordinator, Jitesh Jaggi, kept the program moving, noted the release.
The highlight of the evening, the news release noted, arrived when the Patels cut the ceremonial ribbon to inaugurate the brand-new Umang and Paragi Patel Center National Indo-American Museum.
Groups of 20 guests, guided by docents, then viewed the creations of the nine emerging, contemporary Indian American visual artists from across the United States, the release said.