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Exterior View of National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum

Written by Julie Greiner
The Museum's collection began in the late '70s with three veteran artists and a small group of volunteers. The Museum opened in August, 1996 and is located at 1801 S. Indiana Avenue in Chicago's Historic Prairie Avenue District. This Museum houses the only fine arts collection of its kind in
the world and features over 600 works of art by artists who served as soldiers in the Vietnam conflict. The mission of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum is to tell the story of the Vietnam War through the artwork of those who experienced it first hand.

Currently the Museum includes works from 115 artists from the United States, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand and North and South Vietnam. There are paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures and a collection of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong artifacts such as medals, uniforms
Vietnam Sculpture Dressed to Kill
and weapons. This is the only fine arts collection of its kind in the world and it features over 600 works of art created by artists who served as soldiers in the Vietnam conflict. All of the artwork shows their experiences in the war.

Vietnam Veteran's Sculpture

Dressed to Kill by Joseph C. Fornelli is of teak and brass 50-caliber shell castings done in 1965. "Any warrior has something happen when he puts on his battle clothes - you feel that it gives you a kind of magical power, makes you invisible or gives you strength inside. So something takes over that as a rational person you know is ridiculous. But if you thought that way in combat you'd be dead. You're so
vulnerable... you know, there is a certain strange high, and excitement about somebody shooting at you and you at them. It's hard to breathe and pushes on your shoulders. This heavy air, the heat, the humidity of Vietnam, is something you don't know. It's the kind of air you can feel touching your body and pushing at you."

Sacred Ground of Vietnam Veterans Art Museum

The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum is adamantly apolitical and its mission is to tell the story of the Vietnam War through the artwork of those who experienced the
Healing Art
war firsthand to encourage a better understanding of a very difficult and important time in American history. For those who visit this sacred ground, this national treasure and historically important collection provides a powerful and emotionally moving experience. Sometimes it is wise to take a moment and step back to breath the air of what has passed before undertaking something similar for our future.
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Last Updated: September 23, 2015