Children's museum exhibit celebrates life in China

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted1/14/2016 11:59 AM
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Like children in DuPage County, the children in Hangzhou, China, enjoy games, sports, music, food and fun.

Those similarities will be on display at a new traveling exhibit opening Saturday, Jan. 16, at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.

The interactive exhibit, installed on the museum's second floor, also will showcase cultural differences and will remain on display through May 29.

"They will be following four children from Hangzhou through their different lifestyles," said Kimberly Stull, director of operations for the museum.

Stull said that while some aspects of life in Hangzhou can be dramatically different from life in DuPage, there are some similarities.

"Hangzhou is a very urban city," she said. "It's very relatable."

Titled "Children of Hangzhou: Connecting With China," the exhibit features multimedia presentations that follow the lives of the children as they visit school, the library, the theater, the countryside and their homes.

While many of the museum's exhibits emphasize a combination of math, science and art, this one is more centered on social sciences, Stull said.

"This is really cultural. It's a little more of a 'pretend play' experience than we usually provide," she said.

Stull said that while the exhibit will appeal to children of all ages, those 8 and older likely will derive a deeper cultural understanding.

"Our intention behind it was to provide our visitors with something they might not see somewhere else and give them something new to visit so they will come back again," Stull said.

She said the museum featured a similar traveling exhibit highlighting Japanese culture a few years ago.

The opportunity to host the Hangzhou exhibit was made available through the Association of Children's Museums, she said.

"They work with the Freeman Foundation," she said. "They are focused on Asian culture in the United States. We felt this was a really good one for our community because of the diversity in Asian culture."

Stull said the Hangzhou exhibit was created in Boston, the U.S. sister city of Hangzhou, at the Boston Children's Museum.

The museum will present the exhibit with the cooperation of Naper Settlement and the Naperville Public Library.

The three organizations have formed a collaborative partnership called Naperville Plays, said Dee Dee McDevitt, the museum's director of marketing and sales.

"The three organizations came together to create different learning experiences for the community," said McDevitt.

The exhibit opens at 9 a.m. Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Naper Settlement staff members will be on hand with special activities designed to give the event a historical perspective.

In addition to Chinese cultural performances and kite and paper-cutting projects presented by the children's museum, settlement representatives will demonstrate the differences between school experiences in the 1800s and today.

Library staff members will demonstrate a three-dimensional printer, McDevitt said, and present a puppet show and story times.

McDevitt said Billy Liu, honorary co-chairman of the Children of Hangzhou Advisory Council, was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to Naperville and planning Saturday's opening event.

Stull said the Hangzhou exhibit follows the museum's hosting of an exhibit in January 2014 about love and forgiveness that originated at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

"They bring a lot of value to our visitors," she said of the temporary installations. "It was very well received by our visitors."

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