How can history museums become more equitable concerning the people and stories they interpret and collect? Join the creators of Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota) for a conversation about the process they used to develop their nationally award winning exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. The entire project from palette to text was decided outside institutional control by the Hmong community – an idea still radical for many large and small history museums. The creators share their perspectives on community curated exhibits and how museums can overcome the lack of diversity and diverse viewpoints within historical interpretation.
In 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society was approached by a committee from their local Hmong community with a proposal for an exhibit about Hmong history and culture, anchored on the 40th anniversary of the first Hmong refugees’ arrival in Minnesota. Concerned about having their impact on the state lessened in the eyes of MNHS’ visitors, the committee asked the institution to fully collaborate on the project by sharing curatorial control with Hmong community representatives. Instead of dismissing the proposal, the MNHC welcomed the opportunity to mark this important anniversary and build on their institutional objective to improve internal and external diversity and inclusion. From March 2015 to January 2016, Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota) drew near record-breaking attendance, with over 4,000 visitors, including 62% who self-identified as from Asian Pacific heritage.
Peb Yog Hmoob—We are Hmong Minnesota won an AASLH Leadership in History award in 2016.