Creating connections through Hmong objects

Photo: Burke Museum
Photo: Burke Museum
May 9, 2016 | Burke Museum

The Hmong Association of Washington is partnering with the Culture Department here at the Burke Museum to connect students and community members of all ages with Hmong objects in the Burke collections.

Key guidance for this partnership comes from Zer Vue, a teacher with the Renton School District. Zer reached out to Hmong high school and college students, as well as community members and invited them to the Burke. Each participant was asked to choose an Hmong object in the collection to research and then to teach others about it. Community elders also helped to provide knowledge about the objects.

Some of the most salient moments of the mutual learning opportunities include identifying clothing that show the way Hmong had to hide their identities because of persecution, as well as discussing the shifts in embroidery design that took place while the Hmong were in refugee camps.

Through Zer's leadership and the group's participation, knowledge about the objects continues to grow stronger in the Hmong community, and the Burke can better communicate the meaning and importance of these objects to the public.

We're excited to see what directions our partners want to take this project, and the Burke is thrilled to facilitate connections and learning with the objects in any way possible.

A special thank you to Molly Winslow for contributing this article!