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Young Minnesotans Mentor Young Iraqis in Creating Youth Exhibit in Baghdad

ST. PAUL (July 22, 2013) Minnesota students are videoconferencing with Iraqi students to help them create an exhibit about youth life in Baghdad. Media are invited to attend one of these exhibit planning sessions, held every Thursday morning through August 29, 2013 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul (see below for important condition of coverage).* Session topics include exhibit design and how collections items tell a story.

Two Minnesota Historical Society staff members will then travel to Baghdad for the opening of the exhibit this fall where they’ll meet Iraqi museum professionals and Iraqi students involved in the project and also share their experiences as museum professionals in America.

In December, the exhibit will be on view at the Minnesota History Center and the Iraqi students are invited to come to Minnesota.

“This is a fantastic learning opportunity for these young people. They live 6,000 miles apart, yet they’re able to work together to create something meaningful while also learning about another culture and all the ways they are similar and different,” said Maren Levad, Minnesota History Center Program Specialist.

The idea for this cultural exchange came from Robert Mearkle, a Minnesota native who works at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Mearkle happened to see information online about the “LOL: Living Our Lives" exhibit about teen life, created in 2012 by the Minnesota Historical Society's Teen Advisory Council.

“The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad works to find innovative ways to build bridges between Iraqi and American youth. Iraq’s population is among the youngest in the world and we want them to develop authentic perceptions of the U.S. and Americans. It makes sense to engage students, as they’re the future leaders of Iraq. The Minnesota Historical Society does some very creative youth outreach programs, which is why we looked to them to be our partner on this project,” said Mearkle, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Baghdad.

Ten Iraqi high school and college students, 10 Minnesota high school and college students, as well as members of Minnesota Historical Society staff and staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are working together on this project.

*IMPORTANT: For security reasons, media covering this story must agree not to use the last names or identifiable images of Iraqi students.

This project is funded in part by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund though the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.

This summer explore more than 500 museums statewide with the free Minnesota Museums app, brought to you by the Minnesota Association of Museums and the Minnesota Historical Society. Browse Minnesota museums by name, category or location; create an itinerary, check off museums you've visited and upload favorite museum photos; plus the app will also suggest museums based on geographic location. The Minnesota Museums app is made possible by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

The Society’s calendar of events is posted online at The website also has information about all of the Society’s programs, museums and historic sites.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.


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