Milwaukee Hmong Museum Reopens Its Doors To Visitors
Over the weekend, the Hmong Museum in Milwaukee reopened its doors to visitors. The museum is a part of the Hmong Friendship Association, an organization supporting and empowering the Southeast Asian community in Milwaukee.
Lo Neng Kiatoukaysy is the executive director of the Hmong American Friendship Association, and says the Hmong Museum is now home to over 2,000 collected items from Hmong culture. "We often give tours so they can learn about the Hmong culture. Due to the pandemic, we have not done this in the last year and half. We’re hoping to have more face-to-face interaction with the community," Kiatoukaysy says.
For over 20 years, the Hmong Museum has collaborated with local community members. Kiatoukaysy notes that the museum aims to keep Hmong traditions alive, like teaching the windpipes and traditional dance.
He says it functions as a way for other local institutions, such as Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Police Department, to learn about and interact with the Milwaukee Hmong community as well. Kiatoukaysy shares, "So it is a tool to reach out to not just the Hmong community but also to the community at large and learn about us."
Kiatoukaysy says the museum plans on heavily utilizing virtual displays too. One of those displays, he says, will include a videotape of parents' or grandparents' journey from Laos to Thailand and finally to America. "So that way, maybe in the next 50 years, my great-great-grandkids will come and say, 'I want to know what my grandpa looks like or what his story is.'" Kiatoukaysy continues, "So that we can play that and say, 'Oh, that's my grandpa. That's his journey from Laos, and Thailand and America.' I think all those are very precious, and to keep alive the arts and also keep alive our roots."
The Hmong Museum is located at 3824 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors can learn about Hmong culture while also connecting with social programs, such as job placement, housing, COVID-19 prevention and an on-site food pantry. Kiatoukaysy says, "The museum, the youth program is one of the programs we would invite everybody to go into our websites and take a look at us. And if there's anybody who are in need, please come. Come to ask for services. That's why we're here for."