Over time Slovak immigrants joined Czechs and the local foundation was transformed into a museum that attracted national support. In 1992 the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library was recognized by the Congressional Record. In the landmark year of 1995, three presidents–Bill Clinton of the United States, Václav Havel of the Czech Republic and Michal Kováč of of the Slovak Republic–presided over the dedication of a splendid new building that provided much-expanded exhibit, storage and library space.
In 2008 the NCSML campus was devastated by flooding of the Cedar River, but prudent and quick action saved 80% of the collection from damage and most of the rest is now being restored. Governments, organizations, and individuals contributed in excess of $25 million to the rebuilding of the campus and the expansion of its facilities. It re-opened on July 14-15, 2012.
In recognition of its outstanding efforts to present to a broad public the lives and contributions of Czech and Slovak immigrants, in 2011 NCSML was awarded the Prize of Milan Hodža.
Oral History Project
One of NCSML’s most ambitious projects has been the videotaping of nearly 200 oral histories of Czechs and Slovaks who fled Czechoslovakia during the Communist period, 1948-1989; I am among the interviewees. Each interview is approximately two hours long. In addition to being archived at NCSML itself, copies of this invaluable material are being deposited at the Library of Congress. The whole collection is available for research purposes in both locations, and excerpts have been posted on the NCSML web site and on YouTube.
You can visit the Oral History Project at: http://www.ncsml.org/Content/Oral-Histories.aspx
Additional information is available at a blog by the project’s director, Rosie Johnston, entitled Recording Voices & Documenting Memories: http://recordingvoices.blogspot.com/
My own interview is at: http://www.ncsml.org/Oral-History/All-Interviews/20100407/39/Palka-John.aspx You can also search under my name on YouTube.