“From the perspective of the Hmong community in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Minnesota Historical Society was not doing enough to adequately convey the diverse experiences of Hmong people in the Upper Midwest. […] Enter Noah Vang. In 2013, he and a committee from the Hmong community approached the museum with a proposal for an exhibit about Hmong history and culture.”

Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota is an incredible example of what can happen when a museum and a community come together to tell an unheard local story. Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the first Hmong refugees arriving in Minnesota, the exhibit explored Hmong culture through history, politics, and the arts to counter stereotypes and misinformation, and to present the Hmong people as vital members of contemporary Minnesota communities.

From exhibit text to programming to color palette, this project was designed largely outside the institution by the very people it interpreted. Sharing curatorial control is still a radical idea for many museums, and community collaborations like Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota show how history museums can become more equitable with the people and stories they interpret. This project received a 2016 History in Progress Award from AASLH, one of our highest honors for an institution.

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