Somali culture celebrated at the Hennepin County Government Center, December 2016 through January 2017

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Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969,

Sarah Larsson, Outreach and Development Director, Somali Museum of Minnesota, 952-818-0021

Kirstin Wiegmann, Forecast Public Art, 651-641-1128x110 

Somali culture celebrated at the Hennepin County Government Center, December 2016 through January 2017

The Somali Museum of Minnesota is the only museum in the world devoted to preserving, celebrating, and advancing Somali art and culture. The Somali Museum displays a collection of over 700 artifacts from Somalia and the diaspora, and offers presentations and performances about Somali art and history around Minnesota, as well as in six states around the U.S. and Canada.

This exhibition - “The Somali Museum of Minnesota: Treasures of the Diaspora” - at the Hennepin Gallery features highlights from the museum’s collection. The display showcases the cultural roots that Somalis in Minnesota share, and uses traditional arts as a platform for all Minnesotans to experience the richness of Somali culture and glimpse their Somali neighbors’ history and traditions. 

The exhibition includes contemporary paintings by featured artist Aziz Osman. Osman creates innovative abstract work, as well as paintings depicting traditional life in Somalia and sculptures rooted in African styles. His work is informed by impressionism and abstract expressionism, and his paintings have been displayed at the Somali Museum of Minnesota, Made Here, Hennepin County Medical Center, Thrivent Financial, African Development Center, Midtown Global Market and more. 

The collection from the Somali Museum also includes:

            -Woven mats (kebed)

            -Milk and water containers (dhiil)

            -Traditional clothing and shoes

            -Decorative bowls and spoons (xeero and  fandhal) 

Special events:

Traditional dance performance: Somali Museum Dance Troupe

            December 8, Noon - 1 p.m.

            Hennepin County Government Center Skyway Level 

The Somali Museum Dance Troupe studies and performs traditional dances from around Somalia. A program of the Somali Museum of Minnesota, the dance troupe’s mission is to empower Somali-American youth to dig deeply into studying their culture and embrace their potential to use art as a tool for building community as they grow into the next generation’s leaders. 

As one of only a few Somali dance ensembles in the United States, the Somali Museum Dance Troupe has built a powerful reputation within the Somali diaspora, and continues to impress audiences with their performances of traditional dances from all regions of Somalia.  The Somali Museum Dance Troupe also brings together Minnesotans from diverse backgrounds to experience and embrace the beauty of Somali traditional culture.   

The Dance Troupe performs at events around the Twin Cities and beyond. Notable performances include Eid Celebration at Mall of America, Somali Independence Day, Somali Hero Awards, Minneapolis Sister City Celebration, West Bank Block Party, Open Streets, and celebration for the U.S. Somalia Embassy. The Troupe has appeared and received invitations to perform in Grand Forks, North Dakota; Washington, DC; Toronto, Ontario; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle, Washington.  The Troupe is composed of high school and college students from the Minneapolis metro who are passionate about studying their Somali culture.            

Brown Bag speaker: Maslah Jama

January 17, Noon - 1 p.m.

“Somali Culture: Mogadishu to Minnesota”

Hennepin County Government Center Auditorium, A-level 

Maslah Jama is a presenter with the Hennepin County Cultural Speakers’ Bureau. This lecture will offer an intimate discussion about Somali culture and the ways that traditions evolve as the Somali people move across borders and time, with special attention to the roles that Somali traditions play in contemporary life for Somalis in Minnesota today. 

This exhibition and corresponding events are supported by the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee (MCAC). MCAC was created by the County Board in 1995 as part of the organization’s response to the Minneapolis Initiative Against Racism. MCAC sponsors art displays, performances, discussions and exhibits representing Hennepin County’s diverse cultural canvas.  

For this exhibition and corresponding events, MCAC is receiving support from Forecast Public Art, a non-profit arts organization that connects artist talent with community needs.

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Hennepin County Government Center, A-level, 300. S. Sixth St., Minneapolis. The exhibit is sponsored by Hennepin County Communications. 

The Gallery is a project of Hennepin County Communications.

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