A stage, complete with plenty of costumes, is just one of many activities for visitors to the DuPage Children Museum’s newest exhibit, Children of Hangzhou. (Jane Donahue / Pioneer Press)
Caylee Klemesrud explored the Chinese countryside, became an opera star and performed before her parents at the Yellow Dragon Theater. It was a pretty big day for the 4-year-old, who was among the many visitors at Children of Hangzhou, the newest addition to DuPage Children’s Museum.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Chaylee’s mom, Stephanie Johnson, of Hebron, Ill. “My kids are very into the arts and it’s great to see her excited about learning about this culture and this art form.”
Designed to “engage children and families in learning about one of the oldest civilizations that is now among the most modern,” Children of Hangzhou” opened in Naperville this weekend. The traveling exhibit, created by the Boston Children’s Museum and part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit, is on a three-year, eight-city tour of the United States. and Canada. Naperville will house the interactive exhibit until May 29.
“We were selected from children’s museums from around the country, so it really is an honor that it is here,” said Katie Edinger, DuPage Children’s Museum’s public programs manager.
The nearly 2,000-square-foot exhibit includes life-size cutout figures of real children, and the children also appear in videotaped tours of a school, home, theater and the countryside. In addition, the exhibit features original artwork that gives visitors an accurate glimpse of Hangzhou, China.
“Our museum targets children from birth to age 10, and a lot of our exhibits work very well for the younger audience in that age range,” Edinger said. “Children of Hangzhou is (geared) a little bit more towards school-age children. There are interactive elements in this exhibit and it follows teenagers through some of their activities, so the older children can really relate to a lot of those experiences.”
Edinger said because Naperville has a large number of Chinese residents, it was especially exciting to snag the traveling exhibit for the town.
“This is a fantastic way to connect with the Chinese community here and in the surrounding areas,” the programs manager said. “They can come and experience this exhibit, and for people who may not be familiar with the Chinese culture, it’s an opportunity to come in and learn about it.”
Whether learning to cook a birthday dinner in a Hangzhou family apartment, performing a Chinese opera on stage, attending middle school in a Chinese classroom or planting rice seedlings, visitors get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a kid in Hangzhou.
“I am having a good time here,” said Alex Ung, 7, who was creating a Chinese meal with plastic ingredients in the kitchen of a Hangzhou apartment. “I always like pretending and it’s fun cooking food. This whole exhibit is fun.”
Many museum-goers shared the sentiment. Edinger said more than 4,000 people visited the new exhibit during the first three days.
Jane Donahue is a freelance writer for the Naperville Sun.
Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China
Where: DuPage Children’s Museum, 301 N. Washington St., Naperville
When: Now through May 29
Cost: Museum admission is $12 for children and adults, $10 for seniors. Exhibit is free with admission.
Source: Chicago Tribune