On Int'l Children's Day, Chinese museums are opening their doors for kids
By Ye Qing

The COVID-19 outbreak has eased its grip on China, just in time for International Children's Day. Youngsters who've been forced to stay indoors for most of the year can now return to exploring museum halls and rooms of art galleries. Several museums and art centers across the country are inviting children to spend the day dedicated to them by sampling art, exploring history and diving into immersive experiences.

Pearl Art Museum: Free entry

Children under the age of 14 can visit the Pearl Art Museum in Shanghai for free on May 31 and June 1. The venue has planned an interactive activity, asking children to pick up the museum's guide and a pencil at the entrance, search for specific patterns scattered along the exhibition halls and put them together into a work of art, for a chance to win a small gift.

The children visited the Pearl Art Museum on May 31. /Pearl Art Museum

The children visited the Pearl Art Museum on May 31. /Pearl Art Museum

The museum has waived admission fees for medical staff after reopening on March 14 as a thank-you gesture for their hard work fighting COVID-19 and celebrated nurses on International Nurses Day on May 12.

West Bund Museum: Immersive experience

The West Bund Museum has a surprise in store for children aged 3 to 5. They've organized a workshop, "Balance in the Sound," that mixes fine arts, kid-friendly yoga, and music.

The poster of "The Shape of Time," an exhibition from West Bund Museum. /West Bund Museum

The poster of "The Shape of Time," an exhibition from West Bund Museum. /West Bund Museum

The activity is part of the exhibition "The Shape of Time," one of two shows on loan from Centre Pompidou in Paris. "The Shape of Time" features more than 100 major works from the Pompidou collection. The artworks where the workshop will be held discuss the relationship between art and space and the balance between light and proportion.

Children-themed exhibitions for the occasion

International Children's Day festivities at the Shanghai Long Museum will last until July 26 with a special exhibition, fittingly entitled "For the Children." More than 20 groups of works from the private collection of the museum, including by Japanese artists Aya Takano, Nara Yoshitomo, and Takashi Murakami, will be on show, next to material by young artists.

"As one of the most enduring subjects, artists at home and abroad, ancient and modern, love to depict children, and some choose to create colorful, interesting and innocent works from the children's point of view," the museum indicated. The works focus on art related to children's reads, from comic strips to picture books.

The poster of "For the Children," an exhibition from Long Museum. /Long Museum

The poster of "For the Children," an exhibition from Long Museum. /Long Museum

In Beijing, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art launched its annual children's art exhibition "Jia Yuan" on May 30 at UCCA Lab, presenting more than 100 works by young Chinese artists aged 6 to 18. The exhibit is open to the public free of charge.

The works were created in workshops at schools and community centers and revolve around the idea of "homeland." Children and teenagers were asked to let their imagination run wild on a variety of media, a selection of which has been brought to Beijing and put on display until June 7.

The project is part of UCCA's ongoing project to provide more children with access to art materials and art classes to inspire the next generation of young artists.

How about overseas?

Outside China, museums have also been curating virtual exhibitions for children despite the coronavirus running rampant. On May 6, the American Association of Children's Museums (ACM) launched a new project, "Children's Museums at Home," an online database that pools materials from more than 240 member institutions to provide family-friendly online activities and educational resources amid lockdowns.

"Even as children's museums around the world close their doors temporarily, they are adapting their museum experiences to encourage fun learning for children and support joyful, child-centered, diverse experiences," said Laura Huerta Migus, executive director of the Association of Children's Museums.

"The online practices of these children's activities in museums show that even if they can't serve as a destination for local visitors, they can also serve as educational laboratories and community resources," she added.

(Cover image from VCG)