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Somali Museum exhibits travel to central Minnesota

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Central Minnesota residents have a chance to explore Somali art, history and culture at a series of exhibits starting this weekend.

The Minneapolis-based Somali Museum of Minnesota is partnering with historical societies in four counties to bring "Exploring History and Culture in Central Minnesota" on the road. The museum's aim is to share the rich cultural heritage of the Somali diaspora with residents of central Minnesota, home to a growing Somali-American population.

Events are planned for Saturdays in February in Morrison, Benton, Stearns and Sherburne counties.

The first exhibit will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Morrison County Historical Society's Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum in Little Falls. 

The program will feature kebed weaving, a traditional art form used by nomadic people in Somalia that uses no looms or frames to make the mats that cover the floors of their homes. Attendees will learn the weaving method directly from Somali weavers.

This isn't the first time the Morrison County Historical Society has highlighted the art and culture of a specific part of the population, said Mary Warner, executive director.

"In the past, we've brought in a Swedish dance group, or we've highlighted different kinds of cultures," Warner said. "Central Minnesota has a very diverse population, as far as immigration and the Native American community."

Warner said she hopes the exhibits will help foster greater understanding and appreciation among different groups.

"People are becoming more aware of the Somali community in central Minnesota," she said. "What better way to introduce cultures to each other than to have the Somali community highlight some of where they come from culturally?"

If you go: "Exploring History and Culture in Central Minnesota" exhibit

The traveling exhibit will highlight several programs throughout February, including:

• A Somali kebed weaving demonstration will take place on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Morrison County Historical Society's Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum in Little Falls.
 

• The Sherburne History Center in Becker will host "Somali Culture 101" on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• A mobile culture show, which includes 20 to 30 artifacts from the museum's permanent collection will be on display at the Benton County Historical Society in Sauk Rapids on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

• The Somali Museum Dance Troupe will perform on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stearns History Museum in St. Cloud. The dance troupe is made up of teens and young adults from the greater Twin Cities area who study and perform traditional dances from all regions in Somalia.

• Somali-American author Habso J. Mohamud, who wrote "The Story of Nasra," will be at all four events to discuss and sign copies of her book.