News and Events
CHALDEAN CULTURAL CENTER
By: MARY SAROKI ROMAYA
Imagine stepping into an area where you could do all of the following: see what the town center of ancient Babylon was like; touch the stele on which Hammurabi’s Code of Laws were etched; walk into a sacred space and hear the “Our Father” spoken in Aramaic as Christ would have taught it to His apostles; be transported to Telkaif, or other surrounding villages, in the early 20th century to witness a bride preparing for her wedding; journey to America and view the New York skyline as early pioneers would have seen it from Ellis Island; feel the pride as you stand inside a grocery store in the 1920’s as a Chaldean entrepreneur establishes his place in the Detroit business community; learn what Chaldeans are doing today as they expand their professional horizons. How is all of this possible? Welcome to the Chaldean Cultural Center (CCC).
A state-of-the-art Chaldean Cultural Center has been developed by a New York design team that specializes in museum work and is being built by LifeFormations, a fabrication company from Ohio. The designers have collaborated with community members to create a museum covering over 5000 years of Chaldean history. The CCC is located in the eastern end of the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield. There are 5 galleries for visitors to weave through. The Galleries are: Ancient Mesopotamia, Faith & Church, Village Life, Journey to America, and Chaldeans Today. Each area will house artifacts, media, sculptures, text panels, etc. to tell our story and to support that gallery’s theme.
In the Gallery highlighting “Ancient Mesopotamia”, artifacts will include cylinder seals used as ownership and accounting tools. An authentic replica of the original stele of Hammurabi (Code of Laws) has been purchased from the Louvre for placement in this Gallery. Among other items there will be clay tablets and sculptures of historical figures. The “Faith & Church” Gallery will highlight how the Chaldeans were converted to Christianity by St. Thomas, the Apostle, and his followers during the first century A.D. A visitor will hear the Aramaic language as it is used in religious ceremonies such as the Chaldean Catholic Mass as well as in baptisms and wedding observances. Liturgical manuscripts along with vestments and other Church adornments will be displayed. As you move into the “Village Life” Gallery, farming tools, cooking utensils, and clothing can be viewed. Religious practices, village customs, and dress will be used to show how the Chaldeans maintained their identity as a Christian minority within a larger Islamic culture. This gallery will also demonstrate how agriculture was the economic mainstay and how villages were self-reliant and how much of the economy was based on a barter system. The “Journey to America” Gallery will feature passports, photos, tickets from passenger liners and other items used as individuals and families migrated from the villages and cities of Iraq to come to America. Different immigration periods will be explored. The story as to how and why the Chaldeans specifically came to settle in Detroit will be told. Part of this exhibit will feature a 1930s Chaldean-owned grocery store. The last Gallery named “Chaldeans Today” will focus on the strength yet diversity of contemporary Chaldeans. Through the use of graphics (maps), this Gallery will also display where Chaldeans today are located throughout the world, the Chaldean Diaspora. All of the galleries will immerse the visitor in the totality of the Chaldean experience.
The Chaldean Cultural Center museum will have many media forms including videos, interactives, life-size figures, text panels, and audio displays. A media company based in New York that has done work for the Disney Corporation and produced TV documentaries on the Titanic has developed the media presentations. The company has worked closely with the Center’s design team and with community members.
The Chaldean Cultural Center will be a testament to our heritage. It will honor the early pioneers who had the strength and adventure to come to a new world. The Center will let our children, grandchildren, and future generations know their legacy and instill pride in being Chaldean. It will also serve as a means to tell our unique history to the larger, non-Chaldean community, thus contributing to the cultural diversity that is so much a part of the development and history of southeastern Michigan, and to the country as a whole.
The CCC has built a donor wall which is located on the outer wall of the CCC museum. Community members, corporations, and others can purchase a marble stone in honor of a family member, in the name of a company, organization, etc. The name would be engraved on the stone. This is a wonderful opportunity to support the living legacy that the Cultural Center embodies. There are different levels of contributions. Corporate or individual sponsorships of galleries, artifacts, and media are also available.
For further information, you can call the Center at (248) 681-5050.