For 21 years at the Mont Cultural Center, Program Director Mark Pfeifer has been chasing large and small grants to highlight the St. Paul-based center and its small University Avenue educational spaces, libraries and museums.
He recently enjoys sharing success from national funding groups, but there’s no such thing as a surprise email he received two weeks ago.
“A man from Google, originally from Minnesota, from Omaha, who is quite high up, said,” Can I make a zoom call late in the morning? Google wants to make some donations to the Asian community. ” Told. “‘Can I spend $ 50,000?'”
Pfeiffer was placed on the floor.
“I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Museum to open this summer after expansion project
One-sided donations from the Google Community Grants Fund make up a significant portion of the funding for the expansion of the Hmong Cultural Center Museum. The museum will open this summer at the storefront on the ground floor, adjacent to the University and the Cultural Center on the Western Boulevard. .. Around July 1, Pfeiffer wants to debut a new and improved museum in the 1,200-square-foot space previously occupied by the Free Taxation Department, which departed about three years ago.
Contractors are preparing a one-level storefront to debut the Hmong culture at the street level. It is not in the Cultural Center on the second floor of the adjacent 375 University Ave.W.
Even before it was completed, church groups, schools and youth associations are eager to book a guided tour of the new space, which is twice the size of the current museum, and are calling on the entire pandemic. The second contractor is preparing an expanded exhibition of the CIA “Secret War” in Laos during the Vietnam War, among other important turning points in Hmong history.
“It’s really coming,” said Pfeiffer, who holds a PhD in social sciences. “It’s going to be really dynamic — big screen TVs, more artwork, and we’re expanding our current exhibit.”
The existing space at 375 University Ave. W. will continue to offer English and US citizenship courses as a second language, arts and music classes, a library, reading room and other services. The Hmong Cultural Center also works on the school curriculum on Hmong culture and history.
Twin Cities is home to more than 70,000 Hmong, the most concentrated Hmong in the United States, and the largest group in and around St. Paul.
National funders pay attention
The Hmong Cultural Center, which debuted in 1992, damaged windows a year ago during a posthumous riot in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death.
The combination of pandemics, vandalism and anti-Asian sentiment has helped bring the attention of national and regional art foundations and raise funding for new museums to more than $ 250,000, rather than permanently closing the center. It seems. Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest has donated $ 50,000 from the US Regional Arts Resilience Fund with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Henry Luce Foundation in Manhattan has donated an additional $ 50,000.
Pfeiffer maintains a two-year request to the Minnesota Parliament for funding from Clean Water and Legacy Amendment, a state sales tax to protect arts, culture, land and water, about $ 75,000 a year. doing. His request survived the house version of the legacy bill, but does not appear in the Senate version. The two bills are currently being settled.
“It’s really floating in the air,” he said.
With sufficient funding, he hopes the center will expand beyond 10 employees and perhaps add a second museum tour guide.
“It will really be added to Frogtown,” Pfeiffer said. “It will be a unique cultural amenity.”
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