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.

Project Paj Ntaub

Project Paj Ntaub is a monthly 3-hour workshop where you will learn one of the two traditional paj ntaub stitches: cross-stitch and applique. You will receive a 30 minute presentation from Suzanne Thao, then work on your project and receive one-on-one support and feedback.

Suzanne Thao is a paj ntaub expert. She has over 50 years of experience in traditional Hmong paj ntaub making and is passionate about sharing this creative process and knowledge with you.

Workshops will focus on the cross-stitch and applique techniques. These sessions will be held monthly from 9 am to 12 pm at Studia H, 1648 Bush Avenue (first floor) in St. Paul, 55106.

Cross-Stitch lessons will be on April 29, June 24, August 26, October 28, and December 30.

Applique lessons will be on May 27, July 29, September 30, and November 25.

To sign up or have questions, email

Hmong Tattoo Crew is live!

The Hmong Tattoo Crew’s page is live on Northern Spark! is gearing up for the June 10th Northern Spark 2017 event.

The Team will be interviewing four Hmong tattoo artists and over 30 individuals with Hmong inspired tattoos. A select few will be featured in the Hmong Tattoo Exhibit that will open during Northern Spark! We were testing out lights, cameras, and interview questions with Tou SaiKo Lee (below!).

See the live interview of Tou SaiKo Lee and the Crew from April 9, 2017.

Watch out for more updates from the CREW!

Hmong Museum partners on the Hmong Tattoo Exhibition Opens June 10, 2017 at Northern Spark


tousaikosizeTou Saiko Lee is amongst the few local artists who were chosen through a competitive grant to create an immersive exhibition, Hmong Tattoo Exhibit, that opens on June 10, 2017 during the Northern Spark, an all-night arts event put on by Northern His artist collaborative, the Hmong Tattoo Crew, will work in the next few months to pull together this exhibition. It explores the Hmong diaspora, Hmong designs and motifs, and climate change through tattoo culture.

“These unlikely elements of tattoo, textile, and climate change are intersections of modern Hmong diaspora identity. The Hmong motifs are drawn from textile symbols and those were inspired by the agricultural lifestyle of the Hmong. For Hmong who have grown up in western societies where there might not be a connection to farming and gardening, their fascination with Hmong symbols are that strong bond that continues that relationship crossing time and space,” says Mai Nhia Vang, founder of the Hmong Museum, a partner in the tattoo exhibition. “Tattoo is a physical expression of their Hmong identities.”

Hmong Museum is a partner with the Hmong Tattoo Crew to coordinate and develop the exhibition. Melissa Vang, photographer and team member, will begin photographing and profiling tattoo artists and tattoo recipients for the show. The images will be printed onto 8-foot tall cloth panels and transport visitors through the journey of these individuals. The team has announced a call for Hmong tattoo artists and individuals with Hmong cultural inspired tattoos. Along with the exhibition the Hmong Tattoo Crew will host artists’ talk throughout the evening, give glow-in-the-dark Hmong motif temporary tattoos, and a live body painting demonstration.

To submit your tattoo and story visit or share your own stories on social media #mytattoostory.

Hmong Museum is a new start-up 501(c)3 cultural organization in the Twin Cities established in 2013. It began as a passion project to bring Hmong history to life and preserve all things Hmong. As a museum without walls, the organization focuses on bringing rich cultural programming to community spaces.

Supporting Hmong Museum

Letter from the Chair:

Dearest Family and Friends,

Inspired by a handwritten manuscript of a children’s book that was carefully preserved in a temperature and relative humidity controlled cavern, I began a journey 12 or so years ago. That was to create a Hmong Museum so that I may in this lifetime be able to hold a real object of a history that my parents experienced as refugees of war. Little did I know that it would take so much skill, patience, maneuvering, late nights like tonight as I write this letter, and so much more to move inches to see it happen.

As I’ve told my closest friends and earliest supporters that their mere words would give me enough energy to go on for weeks and months. But alas energy isn’t enough to get us going. So with great efforts by the board of Hmong Museum, who have stuck it out for the last four years, we wrote grant after grant. Of course this was after we received nonprofit status, which was itself a hurdle and great accomplishment for us. Gratefully, we received our first grant ever through the Knight Arts Challenge for $20,000. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT! We are ecstatic. Then for the same project we received a grant from the Asian Pacific Endowment grant and the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Folk and Tradition grant. We’re riding a very happy wave here.

But we need another $12,000 to match the Knight Foundation’s challenge, plus few more thousand to rent an office.

And so this long email letter is to ask each of my friends, colleagues, family, and acquaintances to help me reach Hmong Museum’s fundraising goals. On November 12, 2015, today, Hmong Museum participates in Give to the Max through GiveMN. Give what you can today. Sign up to receive updates, share this with your friends. We are building something here and you’re going to be part of it.

Donate here

Read a short article about Hmong Chronicles, our storytelling project, here.

Like our Facebook Page

Sign-up to receive emails–79ArUTZYQI/viewform

Ok, enough with the links. There’s so much I want to share and this one annual email doesn’t do it justice. I plan to give more frequent updates as we progress this year, especially this year. Do donate, if you can’t, I totally understand. Simply sharing helps too!

Thank you for sticking with me through this email letter and for supporting me all along.

Yours, Mai N. Vang