Child Interpreter

Many children of refugees who arrived in the 1970s to 1980s took on the reverse role of a parent. One of the many tasks that I remember growing up was reading legal documents and explaining it to my parents, filling out forms, interpreting at parent/child conferences at school, and talking to other adults on the phone disputing fee charges on credit cards that my parents never applied for.

In 2016, the Hmong Museum hosted a series called Hmong Chronicles which invited Hmong American artists to collaborate with Hmong elders and create a public performance or talk. Hmong Chronicles was developed to revive oral storytelling in the modern age. In the video below, writer, Shoua Lee, reads her creative writing piece about her experience as a child interpreter.


Events were made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board through grant from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Ramsey County Library, and donations from individuals like you. Photo, young girl, courtesy of the Minnesota Museum of American Art and Sarah White, 2017.

Two BIG Events!

4th Street Block Party – St. Paul Mural Project Happy Hour

Thursday, September 28 at 5 pm – 7 pm
141 4th Street E, St. Paul, MN 55101

Have happy hour on the street and toast the M’s new murals in downtown St. Paul! Enjoy food and drink from Twin Cities Pita and 12welve Eyes Brewing, and live music from Realtree. Step up to Public Art Saint Paul‘s Utopian Podium and partake of the fun and games on offer courtesy of theSPARKit mobile trailer.

The M’s Saint Paul Murals Project honors Hmong culture and creative heritage. One of the murals will be on the Jackson Street parking ramp; a second will be on the Pioneer Endicott building, and a third will be painted along the entrance wall for Eastside St. Paul’s Hmong Village. The murals are being created by guest artist Vanghoua Anthony Vue (Brisbane, Australia) in partnership with local artists Xee Reiter, Christina Vang, Melissa Vang, and Shoua Yang-Chao.

See the Facebook event page here.

Community Unveiling – St. Paul Murals Project

Friday, September 29 at 4 – 6 pm
Hmong Village (Entrance D)
1001 Johnson Parkway
St. Paul, MN 55106

A family-friendly ribbon-cutting to celebrate both the new mural at Hmong Village and the M’s partners in St. Paul’s Hmong Community, whose contributions helped make this proud expression of creativity and culture possible. Mingle with the M’s lead mural artist, Vanghoua Anthony Vue, and his partnering local artists, and then explore the rich abundance of food, drink, and shopping at this Eastside cultural hub. Facebook event page here.

Project Paj Ntaub

Are you interested in Hmong embroidery? Or interested in expanding your knowledge of Hmong culture? Join us in our workshop series, “Project Paj Ntaub” with Suzanne Thao, as we learn the different techniques of cross stitching and applique.

Each workshop will begin with a short lesson on a paj ntaub theme (see schedule), followed by an opportunity to actually work on personal paj ntaub projects and receive one-on-one feedback and support from Ms. Thao.

There are five dates to choose from, each with a different theme.

Sunday January 31st from 9 am to 11 am“Our Stories through Paj Ntaub”
Sunday February 28th from 9 am to 11 am – “Cross-Stitch Paj Ntaub”
Sunday March 27th from 9 am to 11 am – “Applique & Batik Paj Ntaub”
Sunday April 24th from 9 am to 11 am“Paj Ntaub – Kid Edition”
Sunday May 29th from 9 am to 11 am“Paj Ntaub in the 21st century”

Choose, sign up, and save the date. It’s that simple.

Registration is FREE; all supplies will be provided. Space is limited.

Register online at:



Starting a museum. How we did it.

With all the resources out there, one would think that starting an organization would be so straight forward.There are no nitty-gritty-getting-hands-dirty Buzzfeed styled step-by-step instructions. It really is trial by error experience.

I’m no expert, nor do I have all the answers, but here is how I did it.

  1. Connect with people.
  • Friends and family. These may be the first people you begin sharing ideas with. My good friend Malia and I used to lay on living floor and dream up the entry way of the Hmong Museum. She was going to be an architecture and I was going to open a museum. And now we’re both elbow deep in the careers we dreamed of.
  • Directors of other non-profits in a similar industry. I cold-emailed groups and organizations and eventually connected with Lee Pao Xiong from the Center for Hmong Studies. He was gracious enough to meet with me and give me time to do a presentation of my vision. He also then connected me to other individuals what he thought would be interested.
  • Individuals who have the same interests. Lee Pao was a great start. I really didn’t have a connection to the Hmong community in Saint Paul, so I turned to Facebook. I started a group and invited every one of my friends. Friends of friends of friends started responding. There weren’t people lined up for blocks wanting to do this with me, but there were messages from about a dozen solid leads who sounded seemed really interested. (A few of them are now on the Board!)
  • Ask potential mentors (individuals in the field, industry, or leaders of your community) to coffee. Notice how I didn’t say lunch or dinner. If you were like me a freshly minted [insert passionate occupation], there isn’t a lot of green going around. The 30 minute conversations will help you vocalize your vision and make it feel more real. This step is very important. Without a relationship with people, it will be difficult to get them to jump on your cause. Before I did this, I was sitting in an empty room with markers, papers, and RSVPs but with 100% no-shows. The more people know who you are and what you are doing, the more likely they will to show up or support your cause.
  1. Have a vision and a rough plan. Not a perfect plan, just an idea of where you see yourself so that you can verbalize it.
  2. Keep a few cheerleaders around. Your family or friends are perfect for this. Especially when you’re not seeing the kinds of results you hope for.

    98% want to see a hmong museum
    Survey results were used on this postcard. The backside was a nice historic photo.
  3. Research, research, research. ORGANIZATIONS: What organizations are out there that similar to one you want to create? How is your organization going to be different? Where is the gap? Can you join another group? Starting with this will help you see what’s out there and how successful (or not) they really are and how you can fill in a gap that they are not meeting. Plus when you find them, you can ask them a million questions to help you with your rough plan. THE COMMUNITY: Research the community. Who are you going to serve? Do they even want what you are offering? I did a short survey and gave it to strangers at the Hmong Sports Tournament where I knew I would have a large group of people in the demographic that I wanted to target. Plus I created a similar survey on Survey Monkey to get more responses.
  4. Do the ask. Imagine yourself as a development officer. Someone who is going out there to ask virtually complete strangers to give you something. In this case, it is time. You are asking people to join your cause (probably voluntarily). Maybe you want to start a club, a board, or a committee. This is going to be the group that will create the structure of the organization through strategic planning, complete all the hoops to incorporate and get 501(c)3 status, develop and run programs. Basically starting the non-profit.

Now you can start. This is the point at which resources become useful: board development, fundraising workshops, non-profit management classes, Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning just to name a few things that are out there. Below is a list of resources that I used to get started.

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Springboard for the Arts
Map for Nonprofits

Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning
Running a Museum.pdf
American Association for State and Local History

Good luck!


Welcome to the official Hmong Museum of Minnesota: Hmong Museum Initiative website.

While it is rather plain for the time being, more is yet to come as we continue our flight into the future of dreaming reality. Whether you are new or just randomly flying by, take a look around – we will not bite you, promise!

You can like us on Facebook at Hmong Museum Initiative and Twitter at HmongMuseumMN