Luxembourg American Cultural Center Set Into Motion (press release)
On Tuesday, October 26th, Mr. François Biltgen, the Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, visited Port Washington and Belgium, Wisconsin. The primary purpose of Mr. Biltgen’s visit was to meet with members of the newly formed Luxembourg America Cultural Society, Inc. in order to sign a contract pledging the Grand Duchy’s support of the Luxembourg American Cultural Center to be built in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. Not only did the contract specify how the Grand Duchy and Americans of Luxembourg descent will collaborate on the Cultural Center project, the contract also specified a substantial donation from the Grand Duchy to fund the interior displays for the Cultural Center’s museum.
The signing of the contract marked the kick-off of the Luxembourg American Cultural Center project. The Cultural Center is proposed to be built in two phases and will house a museum, research center, and social/education center. The first phase of the project is to include the development of a museum reflecting the past and present history of the Grand Duchy, as well as immigration, settlements of Luxembourgers throughout the US, Luxembourg American societies, and prominent Luxembourg Americans.
The structure housing the museum will be the Mamer/Hansen stone barn presently located between Port Washington and Belgium. The barn was built in 1872 and is the last stone barn displaying Luxembourgish architecture in northern Ozaukee County. The barn is being donated to the project by Trudy and Theodore Muszynski, descendants of the Hansen family who are long-time owners of the barn. The barn will be dismantled and rebuilt on the site of the Cultural Center in Ozaukee County. Georges Calteux, former Director of Sites and Monuments for the Grand Duchy, now retired, will oversee the architectural aspects of the barn/museum along with Chicago-based architect Kathleen O’Donnell.
Mr. Biltgen and organizers of the Cultural Center have set 2007 as the goal for opening the barn/museum phase of the Cultural Center. The Grand Duchy will be hosting the European Cultural Year in 2007 with the theme of the cultural year being emigration. Thus, the barn/museum component of the Cultural Center will be a focal point for Europe’s cultural celebration.
Accompanying Mr. Biltgen on his visit to Wisconsin were Guy Dockendorf, Deputy Minister of Culture, Georges Calteux, former Director of Sites and Monuments, Carlo Krieger, Luxembourg Ambassador in Moscow, Patrick Sanavia, attorney for the Ministry of Culture, and Jean Ensch, Director of Population for Luxembourg City. Other attendees included Don Hansen, Honorary Consul General of Luxembourg at Chicago and wife Gerda, Peter Schroeder, Chancellor, Mary Ann Lulling Hughes, editor of Luxembourg News of America, George Meyers, Grand President of the Luxembourg Brotherhood of America, Bea Krier, president of the Luxembourg Society of Wisconsin, and Kathleen O’Donnell, architect.
Following the signing of the contract in Port Washington, Minister Biltgen and the other dignitaries and guests visited the recently restored 1860 Light Station museum which has ties to the Grand Duchy. A stop was made at the Mamer/Hansen barn before attending a reception at Smitty’s Belgium House in Belgium, Wisconsin with members of the Luxembourg community of Ozaukee County and village officials.
The Luxembourg delegation left Wisconsin just in time to meet their flight back to Luxembourg that same evening. The day left everyone full of good expectations and excitement. The Luxembourg American Cultural Center with its museum, national research center, and social/education center will be a place for all Luxembourg Americans to take pride in. It will be a place for each and everyone seeking connections with Luxembourg/American matters.
Luxembourg American Cultural Society Is Formed
Recently a group of Luxembourg/American descendants organized a non-profit corporation called the Luxembourg American Cultural Society, Inc. (LACS). The LACS is a membership society that will perpetuate the preservation of Luxembourg culture and heritage in America along with fostering ongoing relationships between people from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the United States. The society will be affiliated with the new Luxembourg American Cultural Center to be built in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. Both the society and the cultural center are to reflect Luxembourg culture and ancestry from settlements of Luxembourgers throughout the United States.
The initial board of directors for the LACS has been charged with the task of overseeing the development and construction of the Luxembourg American Cultural Center. After the Cultural Center is completed, the board will see to its ongoing maintenance and operation. The initial board of directors for the LACS include officers: Fr. Kevin Wester, president; Lloyd Croatt, vice-president; Jean Ansay, secretary; Mary Flierl, treasurer; and directors Mme. Arlette Conzemius, Luxembourg Ambassador to the US; Donald Hansen, Honorary Consul General of Luxembourg at Chicago, and Mike Ansay, business developer and advocate of the project.
More information about membership in the Luxembourg American Cultural Society will be available in the months ahead.