Park51 Announces Grand Opening: First Major Public Event Tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Sep 21, 2011, 08:00 ET from Park51

NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Park51, the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, is proud to announce the grand opening of its newly remodeled space on Park Place and debut public program, NYChildren, a photography exhibit by acclaimed New York City artist Danny Goldfield. The exhibit showcases portraits of children from 160 countries now living in New York City.

Speakers at the opening include Park51 chairman Sharif El-Gamal, Community Board One chair Julie Menin, artist Danny Goldfield and Rana Sodhi, whose story inspired NYChildren. Rana Sodhi is a Sikh who emigrated to the U.S. from India and settled in Mesa, Arizona. His brother was murdered in a retaliatory hate crime four days after Sept. 11, 2001.

Goldfield's work has been featured in The New York Times, the cover of LIFE magazine, and on BBC and CNN. Musical entertainment for the evening will be provided by The New York Arabic Orchestra. NYChildren will run for three months. The remodeled space at 51 Park Place was funded with $70,000 raised on this summer. The space was designed as a temporary community center until groundbreaking on Park51.

"I met Danny Goldfield when Park51 was still a new idea. He told me about NYChildren and I said it should be the first event at Park51," said Sharif El-Gamal. "NYChildren and Park51 are about the same things—inclusion, community building and diversity."    

"NYChildren photography was inspired by the idea that the better we know our neighbors, the more open and healthy our lives become," said Danny Goldfield. "My goal is to photograph one child from every country on earth and find them all living in New York City."

About Park51

Rooted in the Islamic tradition of cooperation and coexistence, Park51 is a planned interfaith community center in lower Manhattan. Once realized, it will be home to a vibrant and inclusive community reflecting a wide spectrum of faiths, serving New York with programs in education, arts, culture and recreation.

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