Community to Curate Exhibits at Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center

Posted by Marnie Leist on 06/07/2019

With a $61,240 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center will conduct the Ho’thokaywayna’key: Our Stories project. This project will create guidelines for the community curation of exhibits and generate content for the culture center’s first entirely community-curated exhibit.

The one-year project will begin with a publicly offered workshop in August about successful models developed by museum professional Frank Smoot of Dunn County Historical Society, WI. Through a series of meetings, project participants and Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center staff will co-create guidelines to aid the exhibit creation process. Over a period of four months staff will then assist exhibit participants to develop their own exhibit ‘story’ or section and a plan for an associated educational program. At the conclusion of the project, the Tribe will host a round table to review how the process worked and how it can be improved in the future. The Ho’thokaywayna’key: Our Stories project will strengthen the Tribe’s services by building capacity to successfully create entirely community-curated exhibits and programs.

“When the Shawnee Tribe decided to create our center, our community expressed their needs for a place of culture and community. The project will empower Native people to become their own storytellers, stories of how language, culture, customs, and ancient religion still live among our people,” said Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Tribe.  Cultural Center Director Leist adds, “Current museum models promote inclusiveness, but leave the authority with the organization. Stakeholders often serve on committees where they advise and give feedback, but their input is limited. Shawnee citizens aspire to invert this model, where they create their own exhibits and programs with the assistance of our professional staff.”

The project includes stipends for up to sixteen project participants. To participate, please contact Director Marnie Leist at or (918) 544-6722 by July 31, 2019.