Photo by Somali Museum of Minnesota
While many people stereotype Minnesota as the home of Swedes and Nordic folk, among its 5.5 million residents is the largest population of Somalian people in the United States. As a result of the Somalian civil war that began in 1991, a surge of immigrants found a home away from home in our state. Both first and second generation Somalis inhabit Minnesota, but many second generation Somalis have not ever visited their home country.
Because of the civil war, many cultural artifacts are being lost as many emigrants cannot take all of their belongings with them as they flee the country. To solve this problem of a disappearing Somali culture, the Minnesota History Center has paired with the Somali Museum of Minnesota to create “Somalis + Minnesota,” an exhibit that was primarily designed to bring forward the traditions and history of Somali heritage and to teach second generation Somalis about their culture. All Minnesotans are welcome to learn about Somali culture, too, starting June 23 at the Minnesota History Center.
Within the 2,400-square-foot exhibit, “Somalis + Minnesota” will feature 60 Somalis and their photographs, as well as a description or quote giving a glimpse of their story. Other features within the exhibit include videos and interactive photo panels, a hands-on activity showing museum-goers how to load a camel, as well as a reconstructed nomadic hut from Somalia.
On opening day, admission to the exhibit will be free, and many performances will take place, including dance, storytelling, and demonstrations of weaving. Samples of Somali tea will be offered as well. If you want to dive deeper into how Somali Americans’ have shaped the city of Minneapolis, consider going on a walking tour of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, also known as Little Mogadishu, led by a Somali American on July 28, from 1 to 3 p.m.