In May 2014, the Take Me There® gallery will transform into an immersive experience that will transport families to modern-day China! But, why China? Charity Counts, the museum's Associate Vice President of Exhibits, explains why.
Why explore China at the world’s largest children’s museum? Quite simply—the time is right! Not only is China the most populous country; but, it is also the fastest growing industrial nation in the world and finds itself in the headlines of just about every national news service daily.
But to truly understand how it fits into The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, you need to go back a few years. In 2009, the museum opened its largest permanent international experience, Take Me There®, which focuses on a single contemporary culture outside of the United States and changes cultural focus every three to four years.
The museum’s goal for the Take Me There® gallery is to foster awareness, understanding, and respect for other cultures. That is done through immersive environments based on real places, featuring real families with children in those countries, and through in-depth, participatory programs.
When selecting countries to feature in this changing space, The Children’s Museum explores interests of local families and then evaluates the existing community, national and international connections.
The museum first opened with Egypt, a country that many children are curious about due to its fascinating history (and of course mummies!). Museum leaders felt it was important to share what life is like for families in contemporary Egypt in order to balance what kids already knew about its history. The experience was made possible thanks to strategic collaborations with Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt at the time, as well as Dr. Zahi Hawass, Chair, Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Egypt Air.
From the day that Egypt opened, the museum staff began to explore options for the next featured country and China quickly rose to the top. Its history spans thousands of years and its brilliant past is matched only by its rapid development in the present. China has the largest population in the world and its economic relationships span the globe.
As we look at our community, we recognize that many of our friends, neighbors, and work associates are Chinese. There are thousands of American citizens who were adopted from China and want to connect with their native heritage. Our city has a sister city relationship with Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. We at The Children’s Museum have been forging relationships with many individuals and organizations in China for years. One of our Dinosphere expert advisors is from China–Dong Zhiming, one of China’s leading paleontologists. In the coming weeks, we will share some of the other global partnerships that are making this exhibit an authentic reality.
Our staff members have had so much fun getting to know China through exhibit projects and are compelled to share its people and its wonderful, rich culture with families coming to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We can’t wait to share it with you!
Throughout the year, follow along on the China 2014 webpage as we prepare for Take Me There®: China!
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