First-ever Somali exhibit at Minnesota History Center opens in June
The Minnesota History Center will throw open the doors to “Somalis + Minnesota” in June, the first long-term exhibit about the east African nation’s culture, heritage and diaspora at the state’s premier history museum.
Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the United States, and their stories need to be told, said Steve Elliott, CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society, which operates the History Center. The U.S. Census reports the Somali population in Minnesota at 57,000, though the actual number is believed to be much higher.
“With Somali people in almost every sector of Minnesota’s workforce, now is the time to celebrate the strength and resilience of the Somali people and to help build bridges in understanding what it means to be an immigrant,” Elliott said.
The exhibit is being created in partnership with the Somali Museum of Minnesota, which opened on Lake Street in Minneapolis in 2013.
“We see this as a big honor,” said Osman Mohamed Ali, founder of the Somali Museum. “The Somali community is proud that they will have their stories told at the Minnesota History Center.”
Ali said Minnesotans are curious about their neighbors’ history and that there’s a need in the Somali community to teach the younger generation about their heritage. Many Somalis arrived in Minnesota as refugees fleeing civil war, and families have been more focused on rebuilding their lives than exploring family histories.
“There are a lot of Somalis who don’t know their history,” Ali said. “It will be educational for all Minnesotans — whether they are Somali-Americans or non-Somali-Americans.”