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Museum exhibit presents one woman’s journey of discovery exploring her family’s past

Postcards from the early 1900s provided valuable clues about Debra George’s ancestors. Some of the postcards are in the collage shown here, one of twelve collages on exhibit now at Hennepin History Museum. Photo: Provided by the Hennepin History Museum.

By ROSELLA DePIETRO, Hennepin History Museum

It began by sorting through cardboard boxes that had been sitting in her parents’ basement for years. When the time came to clean out their parents’ home, local artist Debra George and two brothers divided up the boxes. In one of the boxes Debra opened, she found two small vases she recalled seeing atop her grandmother’s writing desk when Debra was a little girl. She began to wonder not only about the origin of these vases, but about the unknown history of her ancestors as well. 

What Debra George discovered about her family is the subject of an exhibit, Family in Pieces, on now through Spring of 2023 at the Hennepin History Museum. Created by Ms. George, Family in Pieces shares the results of Ms. George’s genealogical results which revealed that her earliest ancestors in this region played a significant role in the formation of the City of Minneapolis, information not known to Ms. George and her brothers. But in her research, Ms. George also learned of some disturbing aspects of her family history and Family in Pieces shares how she has attempted to come to terms with this history as well.

Family in Pieces is a multi-dimensional exhibit featuring family heirlooms and twelve collages created by Ms. George as an artful and innovative way to preserve her family stories and make them accessible to future generations. Ms. George noted, “Making art became my way of honoring the discovered stories about my family history. I hope this exhibit and my work will inspire others to explore and capture their own stories in their own ways.”

Visiting the Museum: Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis on MTC’s #11 High Frequency Route. Free parking is available at the Museum and on Third Avenue. Bike racks available.  Visiting requires the use of stairs. Open Thursdays and Fridays: 10 am – 3 pm; Saturdays: 10 am – 5 pm. Admission: Free.

Museum exhibit presents one woman’s journey of discovery exploring her family’s past

By ROSELLA DePIETRO, Hennepin History Museum

It began by sorting through cardboard boxes that had been sitting in her parents’ basement for years. When the time came to clean out their parents’ home, local artist Debra George and two brothers divided up the boxes. In one of the boxes Debra opened, she found two small vases she recalled seeing atop her grandmother’s writing desk when Debra was a little girl. She began to wonder not only about the origin of these vases, but about the unknown history of her ancestors as well. 

What Debra George discovered about her family is the subject of an exhibit, Family in Pieces, on now through Spring of 2023 at the Hennepin History Museum. Created by Ms. George, Family in Pieces shares the results of Ms. George’s genealogical results which revealed that her earliest ancestors in this region played a significant role in the formation of the City of Minneapolis, information not known to Ms. George and her brothers. But in her research, Ms. George also learned of some disturbing aspects of her family history and Family in Pieces shares how she has attempted to come to terms with this history as well.

Family in Pieces is a multi-dimensional exhibit featuring family heirlooms and twelve collages created by Ms. George as an artful and innovative way to preserve her family stories and make them accessible to future generations. Ms. George noted, “Making art became my way of honoring the discovered stories about my family history. I hope this exhibit and my work will inspire others to explore and capture their own stories in their own ways.”

Visiting the Museum: Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis on MTC’s #11 High Frequency Route. Free parking is available at the Museum and on Third Avenue. Bike racks available.  Visiting requires the use of stairs. Open Thursdays and Fridays: 10 am – 3 pm; Saturdays: 10 am – 5 pm. Admission: Free.

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