Chicago-area Museum Hosts Keep Calm and Carry On: Textiles on the Home Front in WWII Britain September 29-January 26, 2014

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The Illinois Holocaust Museum presents the Midwest premiere of a vibrant exhibition which explores the home front efforts during and after World War II, when beauty (in measured amounts) was not frivolous, it was a patriotic duty.

Victory Print dress, Britain, 1945 Arnold Lever for Jacqmar Gift of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Photography © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The way the British creative class came together to unify the nation shows incredible resilience. As the pain of war continues through today, the quintessential British slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ still serves as a reassurance for modern times.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is pleased to announce the Midwest premiere of Keep Calm and Carry On: Textiles on the Home Front in WWII Britain. Amidst the extreme hardship, rationing and deprivation in Britain during World War II, designers created fashions in order to save on essential wartime materials, thus injecting a patriotic sense of style and beauty into the harsh realities of wartime life. Textiles were created as a way to literally wear one’s patriotism on one’s sleeve, encouraging all to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Subjected to relentless bombing in a terror campaign known as the Blitz, fashion (though conforming to strict government regulations) was used as a weapon for maintaining morale in challenging and austere times. Keep Calm and Carry On is filled with actual wartime fashion and textiles from Britain and investigates the tensions between the restrictions placed on dress and the creative ways in which designers and everyday women worked within these constraints in the pursuit of beauty.

“The way the British creative class came together to unify the nation shows incredible resilience. As the pain of war continues through today, the quintessential British slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ still serves as a reassurance for modern times,” said Rick Hirschhaut, Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

With its vibrant display of period clothing, cleverly designed scarves, home décor, film footage and lively music of the era, Keep Calm and Carry On offers a rare glimpse into this period when beauty (in measured amounts) was not frivolous, but a patriotic duty!

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s featured program in conjunction with this exhibition will be held on Sunday, September 29th , 2013. Entitled Broadcasts from the Blitz: How Edward R. Murrow Led America in War, the program will feature Greg Burns, Chicago Tribune and Philip Seib, University of Southern California. Burns and Seib will discuss Seib’s book, Broadcast from the Blitz and Edward R. Murrow’s role in establishing news radio as an effective tool for sharing information and the political propaganda of the time. To register for this event or to learn more, visit http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org or call 847-967-4800.

This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with the support of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf. The Golder Family Foundation is lead sponsor for all Illinois Holocaust Museum special exhibitions. Additional local support provided by Rotarians for Peace, in honor of Rotarian Sir Nicholas Winton. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The Museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Learn more at http://www.illinoisholocaustmuseum.org

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Karen Goodman Minter
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