The Art Institute of Chicago commemorates Swami Vivekananda landmark speech of 1893 in Chicago

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Swami Vivekananda [1863 – 1902), was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna, and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission.

Swami Vivekananda is best known in the United States for his groundbreaking speech to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions. His address “Sisters and Brothers of America ” brought him overnight fame and his subsequent orations at the Parliament formally introduced the oriental thought to the Western world. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and credited with raising the profile of Hinduism to that of a world religion.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

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The Art Institute of Chicago and the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions

The 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions was held in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It took place at the Permanent Memorial Art Palace, which is now known as the Art Institute of Chicago. The original U-shaped structure framed an open court that had been converted to two assembly halls for the occasion. Now the site has the museum’s Fullerton Hall and Woman’s Board Grand Staircase.

The Parliament opened on September 11, 1893, with international representatives of the world’s religions present. An Indian delegate, Swami Vivekananda, riveted the audience with his call for religious tolerance and an end to fanaticism. Over the next several weeks, thousands of attendees came to hear Swami Vivekananda and other leaders speak, making the Parliament a watershed moment in interfaith dialogue.

The World Parliament of Religions was sponsored by the Unitarians and Universalists of the Free Religious Association, and was a part of the greater Columbian Exposition held for several months in 1893, in Chicago, which was attended by over 27 million people.

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Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions
September 11, 1893, Chicago.

“Sisters and Brothers of America,” [The 7,000 people in the audience, according to reports, “went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three minutes.” He went on…]. “It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks also to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration…”
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The Art Institute of Chicago Commemorates Swami Vivekananda’s Landmark Speech.

On September 11, 1995, the Art Institute of Chicago, which was the site of the Parliament of Religions put up a bronze plaque to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s historic address in that building. The plaque reads in part, ” His unprecedented success (at the Parliament) opened the way for the dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. “

On November 11, 1995, the stretch of Michigan Avenue that passes in front of the Art Institute was formally conferred the honorary name “Swami Vivekananda Way”.

Reinstallation of bronze plaque:  On January 28, 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with the Republic of India, reinstalled a plaque commemorating Vivekananda’s landmark speech outside Fullerton Hall.

 

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Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893

On January 28, 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with the Republic of India, reinstalled this plaque commemorating Vivekananda’s landmark speech outside Fullerton Hall. / Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893.

 

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Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893

On January 28, 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with the Republic of India, reinstalled this plaque commemorating Vivekananda’s landmark speech outside Fullerton Hall / Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893.

 

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Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

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Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago

Public Notice 3 – by Jitish Kallat / Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago

 

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Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago

Public Notice 3 – by Jitish Kallat / Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago

 

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To mark the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s landmark address and in remembrance of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 108 years later on that very date, September 11, Indian artist Jitish Kallat created Public Notice 3, a site-specific installation on the Art Institute’s Woman’s Board Grand Staircase.

 

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Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

 

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Swami Vivekananda Way

On November 11, 1995, the stretch of Michigan Avenue that passes in front of the Art Institute was formally conferred the honorary name “Swami Vivekananda Way.”

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Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

 

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Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Swami Vivekanand Way / Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

 

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The first statue of Swami Vivekananda in America was installed at 4 PM on Sunday, July 12, 1998 at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont, Illinois. The statue was installed on ” Vivekananda Hill ” , a hillock in the temple compound, which overlooks the main entrance. The statue was unveiled by Shri J.C. Sharma, Consul General of India, Chicago at an elaborate ceremony. The Vice President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Atmasthananda, performed the dedication. The ceremony was attended by more than 2,000 people from all walks of life. The 10-foot, 2 inch bronze image of Swami Vivekananda in a standing pose was modelled after his photograph taken in Chicago after his appearance at the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893.

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