The Freeman Foundation Asian Exhibit Initiative, administered by the Association of Children's Museums, was created to give children and families the opportunity to "Go East" and experience the cultures of Asia. The initiative brings together seven exhibits at children's museums around the country. Each exhibit concentrates on a different aspect of Asian Culture, from Korean music to Chinese folktale's.
The Asian Exhibit Initiative is funded through a $7 million grant from the Vermont-based Freeman Foundation. Established in 1992, the private grant-making foundation supports educational programs like the Asian Exhibit Initiative to strengthen understanding between Asia and the United States.
The Association of Children's Museums (ACM) is the professional service organization for children's museums around the world. ACM's vision is to bring children and families together in a new kind of town square where play inspires lifelong learning.
The Freeman Foundation chose to collaborate with ACM because of its unique perspective as the professional service organization of children's museums around the world and its valued leadership in the field.
In recent years, the popularity and influence of children's museums has increased significantly in communities across the United States. Currently, children's museums represent the fastest growing cultural institution in the United States and over the last decade the number of children's museums has grown by 100%, reaching more than 31 million children and families in 2001.
Song of Korea
produced by Austin Children's Museum
Developed in close collaboration with
the Samsung Children's Museum in Seoul, Song of Korea is a
hands-on exhibit that uses music to provide an introduction
to Korean cultural practices and traditions.
Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art
produced by Minnesota Children's Museum and The Children's Museum,
The exhibit introduces visitors to Japanese culture through hands-on activities based on the art forms of animation, manga (comics), woodblock prints and traditional scrolls.
Dragons and Fairies: Exploring Vietnam Through Folktales
produced by The Children's Museum of Houston
Dragons and Fairies, Exploring Vietnam Through Folktales uses traditional Vietnamese stories to teach children about the country's rich culture and heritage.
Hmong at Heart
produced by Madison Children's Museum
Hmong at Heart concentrates on the culture of the Hmong, many of who came to the United States as refugees from Laos in the late 1970's.
Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today
produced by The Children's Museum, Boston and Capital Children's Museum
Five Friends from Japan concentrates on the school and home life of Japanese children, highlighting similarities and differences between kids in the U.S. and in other countries.
Monkey King: A Journey To China
produced by Children's Museum of Manhattan
Monkey King: A Journey to China employs the traditional Chinese story of the Monkey King as a window to past and present Chinese culture.
Japan and Nature: Spirit of the Seasons
produced by Brooklyn Children's Museum
Japan and Nature: Spirit of the Seasons invites children to explore Japan's geography and discover how people are shaped by where they live.
Q&A about the Asian Exhibit Initiative
When did the Initiative exhibits open?
All seven exhibits opened in January 2004.
Why are learning opportunities like the Asian Exhibit Initiative important for children?
Children in the United States don't know enough about world cultures. Schools devote little time to the study of regions throughout the world, and children are rarely exposed to Asian and other international cultures outside of the classroom. In a highly interconnected world, the international knowledge gap among the youngest generation is particularly troubling and could hinder their ability to succeed.
The Asian Exhibit Initiative attempts to teach children about Asian cultures by appealing to their natural curiosity and employing children's museums' best tradition of interactivity and play. The initiative doesn't just develop children's understanding of cultures on the other side of the world; it also increases their exposure to the rich and diverse Asian cultures right here in the United States and hopefully stimulates children and families to seek additional information about Asian and other world cultures.
Are there any data that demonstrate the lack of understanding of international cultures among young people?
According to the Asia Society's 2001 report, "Asia in the Schools: Preparing Young Americans for Today's Interconnected World," young Americans do not have a basic understanding of Asia's geography, history or people. A 2002 National Geographic survey documents a worldwide lack of knowledge of geography and current affairs among young adults. 18-24 year-olds in the United States scored next to last among nine countries surveyed.
When will the exhibits begin touring? Where will they go?
The exhibits will close at the producing museums during May and June 2004 and begin touring in July 2004. Each exhibit will travel to ten cities around the United States. By the time the Asian Exhibit Initiative has completed its run in 2008, the exhibits will have visited a total of 77 children's museums.