A post is being shared on social media with a claim that the words spoken by Swami Vivekananda in his famous speech at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions are lit up every day on the stairs of the hall where he gave his speech. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 speech is lit up every day on the stairs of the hall where he gave his speech.
Fact: While it is true that Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 speech was lit up on the stairs of the building (Art Institute of Chicago) where he gave his speech, the stairs were not being lit with his speech every day. The stairs were lit with Vivekananda’s 1893 speech only during a certain period in 2010-11. Hence the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.
Parveen Kaswan, an Indian Forest Service officer, has also shared a similar photo (archived) with the following description – ‘On 11th September 1893 #SwamiVivekanand gave famous speech at Chicago. You know how this place looks like now. These are stairs of Chicago Art Institute where Swamiji’s 473 words are still illuminating. Still registering relevancy.’ ‘India Today’ published an article (archived) based on his tweet.
We searched on the website of ‘The Art Institute of Chicago’, and found that Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 speech was indeed lit up on the stairs of the building where he gave his speech. The photos on social media are related to this installation. However, one can read from the website that the installation (‘Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3’) was for exhibition during ‘Sep 11, 2010–Sep 12, 2011’ and ‘Currently Off View’.
On ‘The Art Institute of Chicago’ website, the details of the installation can be read – ‘The basis for Kallat’s installation is a landmark speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament, which was held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in what is now the museum’s Fullerton Hall…….With Public Notice 3, Kallat converts Vivekananda’s text to LED displays on each of the 118 risers of the historic Woman’s Board Grand Staircase of the Art Institute of Chicago, adjacent to the site of Vivekananda’s original address. Drawing attention to the great chasm between this speech of tolerance and the very different events of September 11, 2001, the text of the speech will be displayed in the colors of the United States’ Department of Homeland Security alert system.’ Further information regarding the installation can be also found on Jitish Kallat’s website.
So, the stairs were not being lit with his speech every day. The installation was there only for a certain period in 2010-11. In a view captured on Google Maps in November 2011, it can be seen that there is no installation of Vivekananda’s speech on the stairs.
Also, in other photos and videos of the staircase after September 2011, it can be observed that either there is some other installation or no installation on the stairs.
Further information regarding the Woman’s Board Grand Staircase can be found here and here. Swami Vivekananda’s 1893 speech can be read here.
To sum it up, the Chicago Art Institute’s staircase is not being lit with Swami Vivekananda’s 1893 speech every day. It was lit up only during a certain period in 2010-11.