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Many museums overseas celebrate Lunar New Year

By BO LEUNG, KONG WENZHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-02 05:34
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London Science Museum hosts an event on China.

With Chinese New Year almost here, museums abroad have been eager to celebrate.

Spring Festival is widely celebrated by museums as a chance to attract broader audiences and invite visitors to learn more about China.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has hosted a Lunar New Year festival for nine years. Last year, 89 percent of all attendees indicated that they went to The Met specifically for the festival, according to Julie Marie Seibert, assistant educator for family programs at the museum.

The celebrations usually feature family-friendly performances and art workshops. Lion dances, traditional Chinese music and dance, paper-cutting, red envelopes, scrolls and the Chinese zodiac are among the favorites.

"For each festival, we develop unexpected, multimodal activities with artists, performers and arts organizations to connect visitors to a broader cultural community," Seibert said.

The Met also plans an annual exhibition for the year's corresponding Chinese zodiac symbol. This year, a six-month exhibition features pigs created by Chinese artists over the past 2,000 years.

Museums look at Chinese New Year as a great educational opportunity. "We hope that families from Philadelphia's Asian communities make our Lunar New Year celebration a part of theirs," said Elizabeth Baill, manager of family programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has been hosting such celebrations for over 20 years.

On the rooftop of the National Museum of Scotland, a mythical unicorn lantern lite up the early morning sky alongside a Chinese dragon to mark the launch of the Chinese New Year Edinburgh festival. [Photo/IC]

The Art Institute of Chicago has hosted Lunar New Year celebrations for five years. It saw attendance increase 24 percent during the 2018 Chinese New Year celebration.

"Our hope is for visitors to engage in cultural exchanges through a variety of activities to gain a better understanding of Chinese arts and culture," said Nora Gainer, its director of tourism marketing.

Museums across the United Kingdom will be celebrating Chinese New Year with activities and performances throughout February to welcome the Year of the Pig.

In London, the Science Museum has had a Chinese-themed evening event. The Museum of the Docklands has an area where children can practice ribbon twirling and martial arts and also play traditional percussion instruments. Lion dances will be performed at the front of the museum.

In Greenwich, an art workshop is to be held aboard the Cutty Sark, inspired by the ship's historic travels, and the National Maritime Museum will host children's activities, including lion dancing, arts and storytelling.

In East London at the V&A Museum of Childhood, visitors can explore Chinese crafts and calligraphy and watch live entertainment. Other activities include making Chinese opera masks and costumes and attending calligraphy workshops.

At the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Spring Festival celebrations will begin with performances, stalls, workshops and activities. Stalls will feature elements of Chinese culture, and there will be a Chinese-inspired menu in the cafe and Chinese goods for sale in the shop. Visitors can search for pigs throughout the museum.

Elsewhere, there will be a wide range of activities organized by the National Museums Liverpool, including arts and crafts and lion dances.

Billy Hui, presenter of BBC Radio Merseyside's Orient Express program, will discuss Chinese New Year at the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

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