The history and culture of Minnesota’s Somali communities will be celebrated in style at the Hennepin County Government Center through January.
The Somali Museum of Minnesota, a Minneapolis-based educational museum, will curate a special exhibition at the government center’s Hennepin Gallery titled “Treasures of the Diaspora” beginning Dec. 5, showcasing a selection of the museum’s 700-plus artifacts from the Somali diaspora of Minnesota.
The gallery will display a number of cultural items and artworks, including traditional Somali clothes and shoes, decorative bowls and spoons, milk and water containers, woven mats and contemporary paintings by featured artist Aziz Osman.
Osman, a noted abstract artist whose works have been displayed at venues such as Hennepin County Medical Center and the African Development Center, will have works displayed that depict traditional life in Somalia, as well as sculptures of his that are rooted in traditional African art styles.
In addition to the gallery, which runs until Jan. 27, the government center will host two special events related to Somali culture. The first will be a special performance by the Somali Museum Dance Troupe on Dec. 8 in the government center’s skyway level. According to the museum, the troupe’s mission is to empower youth from the Somali-American diaspora to learn more about their culture and to embrace art as a potent community-building tool.
The high school-to-college-aged troupe is one of a handful Somali dance ensembles in the country, and incorporates dance styles from all regions of Somalia. It has performed at the Mall of America’s Eid celebration, Somali Independence Day, Minneapolis’ Sister City festivities, and as far as Washington, D.C., Toronto, and Seattle. The Dec. 8 performance takes place noon to 1 p.m.
The second event will be a presentation by speaker Maslah Jama, a member with the Hennepin County Cultural Speakers’ Bureau, titled “Somali Culture: Mogadishu to Minnesota,” and will be held in the government center’s A-Level auditorium.
He will offer a discussion on Somali culture and the evolution of Somali traditions as members of the diaspora move across national and state borders. Jama will place special emphasis on the ubiquitousness of Somali traditions for contemporary Somalis living in Minnesota.
The exhibition and the two special events will be supported by the county’s Multicultural Arts Committee, which was founded in 1995 to sponsor artistic exhibits, events and performances from members of the county’s diverse cultural communities.
The Hennepin County Government Center is located at 300 S. 6th St. in Minneapolis. The Hennepin Gallery is free to the public, and open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information on the gallery, call Carolyn Marinan at 612-348-5969. For more information on the Somali Museum of Minnesota, call Sarah Larsson at 952-818-0021, or visit somalimuseum.org.
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