On February 7, over sixty guests ranging from children, Ball State students, and adults came to celebrate the Chinese New Year at The David Owsley Museum of Art. This year, DOMA had the pleasure of having docent Barbara Alvarez Bohanon and her exchange student Minghao “Patrick” Yan lead this celebration. The event began in the Sculpture Court, where guests listened to Patrick play the erhu, a two-string bowed musical instrument from central Asia. Short videos were playing in the Brown Study Room where guests learned the traditions and legends of the Chinese zodiac. According to Chinese legend, the Jade Emperor, ruler of all gods within Chinese mythology, held a race between twelve animals. The zodiac was determined by the order in which the animals finished the race.
After everyone arrived, Barbara and Patrick led visitors into the Asian Gallery where Patrick introduced himself and explained the ancient culture of China. The introduction was followed with a reading of the book, “My First Chinese New Year,” which taught guests the preparations for Chinese New Year such as, cleaning the house and getting a haircut. Guests also learned the significance of the color red in Chinese culture and its symbolization of good luck for the New Year. Barbara shared where China was located on a map and pointed where Wan, Patrick’s home, was located in China.
Afterwards, the children were asked to put on their detective caps and search for artworks in the gallery that represented the Chinese New Year with the following motifs: celebration, the coin, dragons, and zodiac animals. The detectives shared what they had found and created a visual timeline to compare and contrast the age of the artworks. The fun continued as Barbara, a former music teacher, handed out instruments and explained that they were going to scare the bad luck away. Barbara led a parade through the galleries as the children made noise. The event concluded with refreshments in the Brown Study Room such as dumplings, rice cakes, fruit, and green tea. Patrick’s family contributes to this event with gifts from China such as red envelopes, lanterns, and signs.
A guest spoke of the success of this event by stating, “This was a fun experience, for me, to learn about other cultures and teach my daughter about the traditions of Chinese culture.” Hopefully this will not be the last time the Muncie community is able to celebrate the Chinese New Year at the David Owsley Museum of Art.