A century ago, a nation was born; a half-century ago it was invaded for having the audacity to want freedom for its people; and, just over a quarter-century ago it boldly claimed through non-violence that it and its people would be free again. Imagine what the next century will bring, thanks to the will, character, and values that have distinguished the Czech and Slovak people over the decades. The NCSML brings the lessons of then to the decisions of now through a variety of new, innovative programs.

Guts and Glory: The War Train that Shaped a Nation opened at the museum in April and runs through the rest of 2018.

What makes this project unique is that it’s an exhibit made “by teens, for teens” who will help develop the content and incorporate the latest virtual reality technology into the exhibit. It will engage all ages in learning through the most sophisticated and engrossing experience ever offered in Cedar Rapids by the NCSML.

The project centers on the creation of an original exhibition for the centennial of the end of World War I when the country of Czechoslovakia was formed from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on October 28, 1918. The NCSML has chosen to highlight the story of the Czech and Slovak Legions whose fierce fighting helped secure the independence of the Czechoslovak nation. In 1917, the Czechoslovak Legion, a band of approximately 60,000 Czech and Slovak POWs and deserters, found itself trapped in Russia after its intended mission was subsumed by the Russian Revolution. They commandeered an entire railway and spent several winters traveling and fighting their way across Siberia. Their trains were like traveling villages, with cars designated as a post office, armory, medical surgery, bakery, tailor shop, and other necessities of living. Along the way, the Legions would challenge the authority of Russia’s communist regime, take control of a land corridor thousands of miles long, come within mere hours of rescuing the Czar and the royal family, and literally make off with a king’s ransom. The determination and escapades of the Czechoslovak Legion captured the imagination of the world and remade the map of Europe.

This multimedia exhibit will tell the story of this amazing trek across Siberia with the re-creation of train cars and an immersive environment that will transport visitors back to Siberia in 1917 and 1918.

More information about the exhibit can be found here.

History teaches. It should. The lessons provide wisdom, clarity, context, and understanding to all age groups. And it does with the NCSML’s new curriculum for teachers:  68.77.89. This learner-centered program includes four modules that provide lessons based on the dramatic 20th-century history of Czechoslovakia and its culture of dissent, from the 1968 Prague Spring invasion and its aftermath, through the Charter 77 movement, to the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Formally introduced at an event at the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C., the program is designed for students in grades 9-12 and includes 12 learning activities in four modules that meet Common Core, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate standards. Check the web site for more information.

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