SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 8, 2015) – The Presidio Trust today announced a special exhibition, Operation Babylift: Perspectives and Legacies , which explores the diverse experiences and lasting impacts of a dramatic airlift that removed more than 2,000 Vietnamese children from their war-torn country to be adopted by American families as Saigon fell in April 1975. The extraordinary story continued at the Presidio, where more than 1,500 of these children were transferred before being placed with families. As 5,400 volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area cared for the children, Operation Babylift itself was being debated across the country.
”Operation Babylift: Perspectives and Legacies brings to light one of the many multi-layered stories of the Presidio,” says Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director. “We are honored that community members entrusted us with their personal stories and worked with us with such honesty and commitment over the past year. They are the heart of this exhibition.”
The curatorial team worked with 42 community contributors to develop the exhibition. These community members represent many different connections to Operation Babylift including adoptee, adoptive parent, adoption agency worker, Vietnam Veteran, civilian volunteer, Vietnamese American and people who took action against Operation Babylift. The curators would have liked to include input from the Vietnamese birth families, had that been feasible.
Through photos, artifacts with community written labels, a multi-media timeline, and StoryCorps dialogues between adoptees and Presidio volunteers, the exhibition explores the diverse points of view that existed then and now, including the ways that Operation Babylift was contested. It pays particular attention to the experiences of adoptees who were most affected by this event and who represent 18 of the 42 community contributors.
“We are proud to create a contemplative space where visitors can learn about the profound personal stories of Operation Babylift,” says Liz Clevenger, Presidio Trust Curator. “As visitors reflect on Operation Babylift, we hope they are inspired to take action and engage in public dialogue about the social issues presented in the exhibition.”
Visitors to the exhibitioncan contribute their own perspectives in the gallery. Parts of the gallery content are translated into Vietnamese, and a print guide with Vietnamese translation of all content will be available.
“Adoption is always a complex experience,” says Laura Callen, Founder and Director of the Adoption Museum Project, and exhibition co-curator. “When adoption happens between countries in a time of war, the complexity – and the consequences – can be even greater.”
Four people who were adopted through Operation Babylift 40 years ago will speak at the exhibition’s opening public program, Operation Babylift: Adoptee Voices, on April 16 from 7-8 pm. The adoptees will reflect on their memories, questions, experiences growing up, and the legacies of that event. The conversation will be moderated by poet and adoptee Lee Herrick. For more information, visit:
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Admission is free, though registration is required to attend. The exhibition will be open until 8:00 pm that evening.
Operation Babylift: Perspectives and Legacies is co-curated by the Presidio Trust and The Adoption Museum Project, as they come together to honor legacies and lasting impacts of this historic event. For more information,visitpresidioofficersclub.com/exhibitions/special-exhibitions or call(415) 561-4400. The exhibitionis open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and runs from April 16, 2015 through December 31, 2015. Admission is free.
About the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust is an innovative federal agency created to save the Presidio and transform it for a new national purpose. The Trust’s vision is that the Presidio will be forever a public place: vital to the Bay Area, important to all Americans, and recognized for achieving broad benefits for the nation. Today, the Presidio welcomes visitors, is home to a vibrant community of residents and tenants, and inspires greater good through programs that draw on its history and natural resources. The Presidio Trust serves the public with events, lodging, venues, and recreational opportunities. To learn more, visit www.presidio.gov.
About The Adoption Museum Project
The Adoption Museum Project is creating the first museum to explore the story of adoption and how adoption relates to larger themes such as identity, human rights and race. Its mission is to catalyze conversations about adoption that support positive social change. The Adoption Museum Project is committed to honesty, inclusion, and respect. To learn more, visit www.adoptionmuseumproject.org.