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First Somali museum in North America to open in Minneapolis

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Organizers are readying the grand opening of the first museum in North America dedicated to the Somalian culture, the Star Tribune reports.

The Somali Artifact & Culture Museum is opening Saturday on 1516 E. Lake Street.

The museum is the brainchild of Minneapolis restaurant owner Osman Ali, who has amassed a 700-piece collection of items such as a camel's milking jar, traditional shoes and a drum-like instrument called a durbaan.

Ali tells KARE 11 that the idea came to him during a 2009 trip to Somalia, which made him realize how younger Somlians here no longer understood the country's nomadic culture.

Minnesota Public Radio has a slideshow of some of the artifacts in the museum.

Some of the items, Ali believes, date back hundreds of years. All of the artifacts in museum, he says, were handcrafted from animal skin and wood, the only two items available to the nomadic people.

After Saturday's grand opening celebration, the museum will be open Mondays, Wednesday and Thursday 9 to 5 p.m. Eventually, Ali wants the museum to be open Mondays through Saturdays.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the country, including four first-time actors in the new Tom Hanks film "Captain Phillips."

Critics are especially buzzing about the performance of Minneapolis resident Barkhad Abdi, who stars as the chief adversary opposite Hanks' character, Captain Richard Phillips.

local premiere of the film to honor the actors was held in St. Paul earlier this week.

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