Hat_medFlowery Cloth: Paj Ntaub November 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Hmong migration to Minnesota following the war in Southeast Asia. Today, the Twin Cities metro area is home to 66,000 Hmong, the largest urban Hmong population in the United States.

Developed in partnership with the Hmong community, this exhibit will commemorate the anniversary and celebrate the significant political, social and economic contributions the Hmong have made to Minnesota and the nation.

Story cloth_medHmong textiles from the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection will be featured in an exhibit in three galleries at the Historical Society building and also at the James J. Hill House. The exhibit runs through the end of 2015.

Paj ntaub_medthe exhibit is divided into three sections:


First gallery

A selection of artifacts from Hmong traditional life in Laos — basketry, textiles, jewelry, weapons, and objects for spiritual rituals. An entire wall of the gallery is taken up by a timeline of Hmong history from ancient days through the upheavals of war and displacement in the 20th century.


Transitional space linking the two galleries

The major element here is an art installation, “Let the Spirit Fly,” with thousands of brightly colored spirit papers of the type burned as offerings at Hmong funerals. In the words of artist and exhibit designer Sieng Lee, it is “a remembrance of the countless lives, memories, and heartaches that have paved the way for Hmong Americans today who are still living in transition, looking to redefine a future.”


Second gallery

Focuses on the Hmong journey from Thailand to Minnesota from 1975 to 2004, when the last refugees arrived. Visitors can explore life in the refugee camps; the first years of settling in the state; the clan system; language, religion and spirituality; work by Hmong artists exploring themes of culture and memory; a timeline of Hmong women’s history in Minnesota; Hmong in politics; and an interactive farmers’ market.

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Minnesota Historical Society Exhibit Link