Yalla Eat! Program Featured On NPR

The Arab American National Museum’s Yalla Eat! culinary program was recently featured on NPR’s The Salt. We’re incredibly honored our work is garnering national coverage. The tour is a key component of our institution’s work towards embedding museum experiences into the local community; dispelling stereotypes and misconceptions about Arab Americans; and working with the community to tell our story. Read on!

Unlike most museums, the Yalla Eat! tours take people outside of the building and into the community. People who are unfamiliar with Arab cuisine and culture can talk with business owners about their experiences and the products they sell.

Now in its fourth year, the museum’s Yalla Eat! (“Come on, Eat!”) food tours have spiked in popularity.

Screenshot of Yalla Eat! on NPR's The Salt
Yalla Eat! on NPR’s The Salt
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Epicenter X: Saudi Contemporary Art

This past week, the Arab American National Museum opened a new exhibition entitled Epicenter X: Saudi Contemporary Art. Epicenter X represents the first exhibition of its kind from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to appear in Michigan.

Epicenter X explores contemporary Saudi culture by promoting meaningful dialogue between Saudi artists and U.S. audiences. Furthermore, the exhibition sheds light on the vast diversity of contemporary artistic practice in Saudi Arabia. Cutting through the political discourse of media outlets and government officials, the artworks featured in this exhibition open doors to the lives of the Saudi people. In doing so, this presentation will challenge common views and stereotypes of Arab culture by lending voice to artists exploring poignant ideas centered on urbanization, globalization, religion and the impact of American popular culture in Saudi society.

A variety of works in diverse mediums by both established and emerging artists are featured in the exhibition. Highlights include works by current AANM resident artist, Ayman Yossri Daydban; Abdulnasser Gharem’s Men at Work I-IV; Qamar Abdulmalik’s Asylum of Dreams installation; Ahmad Angawi’s Wijha 2:148; and Yusef Alahmad and Josh Higgins’ Ahlan wa Sahlan. Also featured in Epicenter X are two contemporary Qut murals (on display in The Annex) created in the age-old traditional style of house-painting by skilled female artisans from southwestern Saudi Arabia.

The exhibition has been garnering lots of media hits. Here is some coverage from the Associated Press, Stateside on Michigan Radio, Hour Detroit, Middle East Eye, and Al Arabiya.

A digital copy of the exhibition catalogue can be found online. Catalogues and exhibition posters are available for free within the museum. Epicenter X is on display through October 1, 2017.

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Keynote at National Council on Public History’s Annual Meeting

A big thanks to the National Council on Public History for inviting me to deliver the keynote address at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis last weekend. It was great connecting with colleagues from across the nation to explore the many ways public history enriches our society. And, a big thanks to those who woke early to attend my talk.

I would also like to give a big shout out to the conference attendees who stroked my ego ( ??? ) by providing great feedback via Twitter. Seriously, though, this was my first major keynote and I appreciate the encouragement!

Screenshot of Twitter Feedback

Up next, I’m looking forward to presenting the work of the Arab American National Museum at the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) annual conference in St. Louis. Our session, Interpreting Oppression: An Uncomfortable Opportunity, is on Monday, May at 8 from 1:30 to 2:45pm. If you’re in STL, then please join us!

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What the Elimination of the NEA and NEH Means to Us

On March 16, President Donald J. Trump put forth his budget proposal and it calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), among other governmental agencies. These vital government programs have been pillars of cultural and intellectual production throughout our nation. Thousands of museums, libraries, and cultural institutions will be significantly impacted if these programs are eliminated.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act. This important piece of legislation established both the NEA and the NEH. Since their inception, these Endowments have played an essential role in helping cultural institutions make the arts and the humanities more accessible to all Americans. This includes giving voice and visibility to marginalized and underrepresented communities throughout our nation. The Arab American National Museum (AANM), our nation’s singular museum dedicated to the Arab American experience, has been one of the thousands of museums, libraries, and cultural institutions to benefit from this support.

Since its founding in May 2005, the AANM has been able to shine light on Arab Americans and their presence in our nation through multiple NEA and NEH grants. For example, support from the NEA has enabled the museum to present its biennial DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts. DIWAN is a national convening that has provided hundreds of artists and scholars a safe, welcoming environment in which to connect, exchange ideas, and document emerging trends in the creation of art. What’s more, DIWAN has played a pivotal role in the Museum’s effort to build community through the performing and visual arts. In addition to shedding light on the creative output of Arab Americans, DIWAN has fostered relationships that have led to new research, collaborations, exhibitions, and public programs.

The NEA has also been a supporter of the museum’s award-winning SURA Arts Academy. SURA helps middle school and high school students learn to interact with an increasingly diverse world through professional photography instruction. More importantly, it affords youth from low-income and immigrant communities the opportunity to engage with high-quality mentorship in an enriching environment outside the classroom, which is vital given the cuts to arts programs in our schools. In fact, this award-winning program has been so successful that it received a prestigious Coming Up Taller Award in 2008 for best after-school program from the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities.

Most recently, the AANM was awarded a planning grant from the NEH. This grant supports research to update the museum’s permanent exhibits. Specifically, this project is examining recent patterns of migration to the U.S. from the Arab world for the purpose of current and inclusive representation in the museum’s public programs, collections, and permanent exhibits. Museum staff are partnering with leading scholars to conduct community-based research with a representative selection of recent immigrant and refugee communities from across the country. Collectively, we will produce a compelling and inclusive portrait of Arab immigration to the U.S. from the 9/11 era until today.

These are but a few ways the NEA and NEH have impacted the Arab American National Museum’s programs, research, and exhibitions. Through this support, we have been fortunate to give voice to Arab Americans while placing our community’s stories in context with the larger American historical narrative. In short, the NEA and NEH have played a critical role in helping our institution provide accurate and reliable information on Arab Americans while working to build greater connectivity among all Americans.
Elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would have a profound impact on not just Arab Americans, but thousands of communities big and small, urban and rural, throughout our nation. We urge Congress to take bold and immediate action to preserve both of these American institutions. We are a more vibrant and democratic society with their support.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

Photos from our recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

View of Victoria Street
Victoria Street
View from South Bridge
View from South Bridge
Image of The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
Image of National Monument of Scotland
National Monument of Scotland
View of downtown Edinburgh from Calton Hill
View of downtown Edinburgh from Calton Hill
View of The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill
The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill
Image of a taxi in Edinburgh
Classy Taxi
Image of Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket
Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket
Image of the Holrood Palace from Holyrood Park
Holyrood Palace from Holyrood Park
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Images of Holyrood Palace and Abbey

Here are a few photographs from my recent visit to the Holyrood Palace and Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Picture of Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
iPic of Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
iPic of Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
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We Believe in America

A Joint Statement By The Arab American National Museum And Shangri La: A Museum Of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

We are American institutions of history, art, culture and conscience. Our collective missions speak broadly of the beautiful heritage and experiences of myriad and diverse peoples at home and abroad.

Our work aims to deepen our understanding of one another and our common humanity.

We believe that policies targeting refugees, immigrants, women, Native peoples, people of color, Arabs and Muslims do not reflect the moral courage and generosity of America – or its greatness. The true strength of our character is defined by our capacity for love and inclusivity, empathy and kinship.

We believe in America.

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