Mideast Meets Midwest in New, Historic Fashion Project

For immediate release

Release dated: 
November 19, 2013
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 • jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Aleah Vinick • Minnesota History Center • 651-259-3417 • aleah.vinick@mnhs.org

Mideast Meets Midwest in New, Historic Fashion Project

Twin Cities and Palestinian Teens Connect Through Fashion, History and Culture

This fall, twenty Twin Cities teens are partnering with twenty Palestinian teens in Jerusalem to study fashion, history and culture and ultimately mount two fashion shows in spring 2014.

Developed by the Minnesota Historical Society, Design Diaries International is part of the Museums Connect program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Twin Cities teens are meeting monthly with the Palestinian teens via video conferencing technology. The next video conference will be held on Dec. 14 at the Minnesota History Center.

Throughout the course of the program the girls will research textiles in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Palestinian Heritage Museum. They'll work with fashion designers to create garments that draw on their research and express their unique identities. The girls will share what they learn through posts on Tumblr, a closed Facebook group, video and photo diaries, sketches, and written reflections.

"We want to create positive relationships among American and Palestinian young people," said Aleah Vinick, program specialist for the Minnesota History Center. "At the same time, the project will help these teens express themselves as they learn about history and each other. In the end, the students have a lot of pride in what they create."

The Palestinian fashion show will be held in April and the U.S. show will be held in May at the Minnesota History Center. Four Twin Cities teen participants will be selected to travel to Jerusalem for the Palestinian fashion show. To learn more about Design Diaries International, visit www.minnesotahistorycenter.org/designdiariesintl.

This project is also made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

Legacy logo AAM DOS Dar al Tifl logo


About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums is the largest museum service organization in the world, serving all types of museums, including art, history, science, botanic gardens, zoos and aquariums. The Alliance helps museums serve their communities by developing standards and best practices, offering professional training and resources, and serving as the national voice of museums for the public, media and elected officials. Working on behalf of 17,500 museums, 400,000 museum employees, thousands of volunteers and the visitors who come to museums 850 million times each year, the Alliance is dedicated to bolstering museums in promoting lifelong learning, celebrating cultural heritage and inspiring the creative skills to compete in a global economy. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

About the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. The Bureau's exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of State Department exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 320 current or former heads of state and government.

About the Palestinian Heritage Museum

The Palestinian Heritage Museum (PHM) owns hundreds of original Palestinian dresses that range in age between 150 and 200 years, and represent various historic Palestinian regions. The majority of dresses are formal costumes that Palestinian villagers wore for weddings, etc. The collection also includes "everyday use" dresses with hand-embroidered designs that Palestinian women—particularly those in villages--wore during their daily work at home or in the field. The collections also include headpieces, shawls, belts and jewelry. Thanks to a recent grant, two museum staff members have undergone conservation training to catalogue and learn proper handling techniques for collections research at PHM's conservation lab. The Museum is attached to the main school building of Dar Tifel School. PHM hosts a weekly "traditional arts" workshop supervised by an experienced teacher/artist and museologist, for all school girls grades 4 and up to learn and produce heritage-based designs and special items that are often exhibited in an end-of-year public exhibition.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

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.