Hmong at Heart: Finding your cultural roots

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On one of its last stops, the popular exhibit Hmong at Heart has been at the Minnesota Children’s Museum since October 4 and will remain a featured exhibit until January 19, 2009. Hmong at Heart gives families a window into the everyday lives of the Hmong people in three environments: a village in Laos, a refugee camp in Thailand, and a Hmong-American home.

Visitors can use oversize, colored beads to create unique patterns on dowels; examine genuine Hmong artifacts; practice everyday Hmong phrases at a pretend farmer’s market booth; and plot out how to plant 50 acres of farmland. Adults and children can also express their thoughts about the exhibit at a creative writing poetry station.

The exhibit was developed by Madison Children’s Museum and its partners, but Minnesota Children’s Museum has gone a step further by developing a 500-square foot addition that highlights the Hmong community in Minnesota during the last 30 years. Not only does the Hmong in Minnesota section feature family photos from the regional Hmong community, it introduces visitors to the Yangs, local Hmong farmers.

Like many local Hmong families, this multi-generational household combines everyday American life with centuries-old traditions. Visitors can meet the family by watching an interview about life in Laos and Thailand before arriving in the U.S., and get an up-close look at family treasures.

The exhibit recently wrapped up a national ten city tour as part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Exhibit Initiative, administered by the Association of Children’s Museums.

Hmong at Heart will continue through January 19, 2009. The museum is located at Seventh and Wabasha streets in downtown St. Paul. For 24-hour information, visit www.MCM.org or call 651-225-6000.