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chinese new year at the metropolitan museum of art A dancer entertains visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art taking part in the museum's Chinese New Year fetivities. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Natasha Mileshina)

The Year of the Dragon

Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates Chinese New Year

By Jasmine Perry | February 21 , 2012

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recently devoted an entire day to celebrate the start of the Year of the Dragon.

On February 4, Chinese New Year festivities came to life in the compelling, thrilling forms of live performances, interactive workshops, and other equally exciting programs. Not only were they enjoyable for children of younger ages, the events were educational for participants of every age, and every background.

The day began with a Sesame Street puppet show. The turnout was so large that a screen was set up in the room next to the stage for those who couldn't fit into the main space to watch the show. Families laughed and clapped along to songs and cheered as their children had the opportunities to showcase their skills in counting to ten in Chinese.

This was the third year the Met hosted a Chinese New Year event in this space. Event coordinator Bonnie Wong said the first couple years "were a bit disorganized, and it was confusing. This year is definitely an improvement from before."

I caught up with Wong in the middle of the day's festivities. We spoke briefly about the most memorable parts of the day. She was glowing with anticipation to see all of the hard work finally pay off.

"Everyone loves the lion," she laughed. "It is just really hard not to. Today, there are just so many great activities. From the past festivals, I know that the kids will enjoy the dragon-making activity. Everyone has the chance to be able to create a part of the dragon and, at the end, all the pieces get put together."

"I'm sure they'll enjoy themselves throughout the entire day," she added. "But personally, I especially love the lion and I love Sesame Street."

Light streamed in from the enormous windows and spotlighted the stage as we made our way through the auditorium. We swerved around wide-eyed children who were leading their parents by the hand and urging them towards the singing Sesame Street puppeteers.

"The atmosphere is great when the kids start jumping up and down and all the adults start singing along, it's just a lot of fun," Wong said. "And it is for adults too, not just for the kids. They can appreciate the galleries, and appreciate the learning experience."

As expected, everyone who attended and participated enjoyed themselves. They left the Met at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied and with new-found knowledge toward Chinese culture.

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