Estonia exhibit in Chicago Daley Plaza: June 2-5, 2019

Two of my favorite things have crossed roads. The Chicago Picasso and Estonia.

While walking to work on a Monday morning, a giant photo Arvo Pärt (the Estonian composer) greeted me right by the Chicago Picasso. Wow! What is this?! It’s an exhibit about Estonia—right in the heart of Chicago!

Arvo Pärt the Estonian composer and Chicago Picasso in Daley Plaza

A wonderful public exhibit you can just walk right in and look at all these photos of Estonia and read about our tiny little Baltic country.

The website for this exhibit, states:

The purpose of this exhibition, “Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100” is to commemorate a century since the founding of the Republic of Estonia. It is also to introduce its history, culture, innovation, and, most of all, its people, to the wider world.

Standing right in the heart of Chicago, reading about Estonia, made me so proud to have Estonian heritage. (I’m half Estonian. My dad and grandma came over to America as refugees after WWII.)

Incredible to think that Chicagoans will see this exhibit and learn about Estonia. As other people came up to look at the pictures and read the text, I was so proud to think that they are reading about Estonia. I wanted to tell people around, “hey! I’m Estonian!”

This quote in particular made me laugh out loud, because my other half is German.

Estonians with their precision are the best Germans in the world. —Katri Raik "My Narva"

I walked around and inside the exhibit, and recorded this 4-minute video:

I also photographed every single “circle” unit in this exhibit. Photos to be posted on this blog post in the next couple days.

For now, here’s a couple panoramic images of the interior:

Panoramic interior photo of Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100
Panoramic interior photo of: Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100

The location of this exhibit has special meaning for me, as now I walk through this plaza every single day on my way to work for the Tribune. For 18 years I worked in the Tribune Tower, and now just last year we moved out of this historic building. I missed walking to the Tribune Tower, but now I get to walk through Daley Plaza with the Chicago Picasso sculpture standing tall. I’ve made it a tradition of mine every time I walk by the Picasso to hop up on the pedestal and run my hand along the base of the sculpture.

So Daley Plaza is meaningful for me. And now to have this Estonia exhibit there as part of my walk for a couple days. How wonderful!

A few years ago the Daley Center (the building right on Daley Plaza) had a Baltic refugee exhibit. “Embrace Freedom the Baltic Way” was shown on August 23, 2014 where people of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia came to view the exhibit—my family being part of those people there.

It seems Chicago’s Daley Plaza really likes Estonians!

Another fun quote, especially since it touches on my love for wearing ties:

"I can immediately recognize an Estonian. Their appearance is never loud or bold. They always wear a tie and their trousers have a straight crease. They have a slightly weak chin and a calm look in their eyes.""
—Sergei Dovlatov “Compromise”
Soviet journalist and writer of American-Jewish descent. Internationally, one of the most popular Russian writers of the late 20th century.

For the sake of preservation, here’s the event listing on the Facebook Page, Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100

We look forward to having you join the Estonian Cultural Society of Chicago and friends welcoming this unique and fantastic installation which has traveled from Estonia to be with us for the celebration of Estonia’s 100 years of independence. The exhibit arrived at Stanford University, traveled to Toronto, Boston and now will be arriving in Chicago en route to Washington, D.C.

The traveling exhibit “Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100” will be open to the public from Saturday, June 1 at 2 pm until Wednesday, June 5 at Noon on Daley Plaza. The free exhibit provides an overview of Estonia’s landscapes, history, culture, innovation, and people.

Formal ceremonies opening the exhibit will be held at Noon on Sunday, June 2. Speakers will include Andrus Viirg, Director of Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley, Gilda Karu, a member of the Estonian American National Council from Arlington Heights, IL, and Marko Koplimaa, Deputy Chief of Mission from Embassy of Estonia Washington, D.C. While the exhibit is open, local Estonian Americans will be present to answer questions and to even teach a word or two of Estonian to anyone who is interested.

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