Aurora Public Library’s Richard and Gina Santori Library will host an opening reception for an exhibit featuring Hmong Americans from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, in the John C. Dunham Atrium.
The exhibit, which will run through Feb. 25, is the Pick Museum of Anthropology’s “Storytelling: Hmong American Voices.”
Originally developed by the Northern Illinois University Museum, the exhibit was developed with a Hmong Community Advisory Council and debuted at the Pick Museum in 2016.
“Working with the Hmong American community to collaboratively develop this exhibit has been a truly eye-opening experience for me,” Pick Museum curator Laura McDowell Hopper said. “I’ve been continually touched and surprised by the Hmong Community Advisory Council’s willingness to share their stories, material, culture and family photos for display. The Council Members’ enthusiasm in working with our museum has resulted in a powerful exhibit that offers visitors a glimpse into the successes and challenges of this unique community.”
Through objects and personal stories, the exhibit immerses visitors in Hmong history and culture. Visitors will view traditional clothing, textiles and silverwork jewelry, and learn about concepts of home, spirituality and memory.
The Feb. 2 reception, part of Aurora’s First Fridays celebration, will feature refreshments and a performance by Aurora’s First Hmong Alliance Church Choir. Church members plan to wear traditional Hmong clothing. The program will begin at 5:40 p.m.
Members of the church contributed articles and stories to the exhibit. “We are thrilled to be a part of what NIU is doing to showcase the Hmong in Illinois,” said Asia Yang, the church’s pastor.
“In developing the original Storytelling exhibit, we realized the potential for strengthening our relationship with the Hmong community in Aurora,” said Rachel Drochter, research assistant at the Pick Museum. “When we were given the opportunity by the Dunham Fund to give the exhibit a longer life, our goal was to focus on and bring more visibility to the local Hmong community.
“Aurora is a diverse city with families who have been here for generations as well as folks who represent newer immigrant communities. I think the stories shared by Hmong Americans about their journey to the Midwest and their lives now, will truly resonate with and engage visitors to the Aurora Public Library.”
The event is free and open to the public and is supported by The Dunham Fund and CEP Exhibit Productions as well as Northern Illinois University and the Aurora Public Library.
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