I Lived To Tell the World – Exhibition

The Immigrant Story and the Oregon Historical Society invite you to visit “I Lived to Tell the World,” a new multimedia exhibition opening on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2024, at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland. The exhibit, inspired by journalist Elizabeth Mehren’s book of the same name, celebrates the stories of people who have survived perilous journeys and unthinkable cruelty in their home countries, only to build productive new  lives in Oregon. 

These survivors are united by a troubling truth: Human despotism, barbarism, and cruelty  sometimes know no bounds. And yet, as this exhibition aims to make clear, humanity is also made up of the courageous and the resilient. The Immigrant Story presents this exhibition in the hope that the images and their corresponding stories will inspire, inform and, possibly, enlighten.

The Immigrant Story is proud to join with lauded Portland photographer Jim Lommasson to display his work featuring objects that survivors were able to carry with them throughout  their desperate journeys. Participants also shared handwritten testimonies — stories, memories, poems, drawings — about these objects. These personal reflections speak to the luminous inner life of these ordinary objects and to the anguish of remembering lives forever left behind. Ordinary objects thus become sacred.

Also on display are three short docu-series films by well-known video producers from the Pacific Northwest, in collaboration with the nonprofit NW Documentary. These visceral personal stories emphasize the individual humanity of genocide survivors, forcing viewers to look beyond cold facts and statistics and confront the immense emotional, spiritual, and physical violence to which these survivors were subjected.

I Lived to Tell the World: Stories from Survivors of Holocaust, Genocide, and the Atrocities of War will run from June 20, 2024, through November 17, 2024 at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave., Portland, OR 97205. 

This exhibit was made possible by a generous contribution from The Ronald W. Naito MD Foundation. Additional funding was provided by a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Zidell Family Foundation