It was another year to welcome springtime and activities across museums in Houston and Atlanta kicked into high gear.
Now in its fourth year, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, in partnership with the Aga Khan Council, hosted a cultural program to celebrate Navroz. What started as a short partial-day event in its first year has now grown to a two-day event, which attracted hundreds of avid museum-goers. In addition to bringing back successful activities from prior years, such as tile coloring and story time, this year the Ismaili Muslim Choir of Atlanta was a new addition to the program. Children came together, twirling in unison and waving their ribbons to the diverse songs sung by the choir in an interactive performance.
In Texas, the Aga Council partnered with the Children’s Museum of Houston to host Navroz celebrations and activities across two locations, namely, the museum district location and its sister location, the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center in Sugar Land. A wealth of activities were organized that included decorating eggs with spring-themed designs, creating bouquets of Hyacinth flowers using colored paper and chopsticks, and a Haft Seen table introducing children to foods symbolizing good health, unity and prosperity. In addition, the Ismaili Dance Ensemble performed the Syrian debke dance, which means "stomp" in Arabic. Historically, the purpose of holding hands and dancing in folklore began due to weather changes as residents stomped their feet on top of roofs to settle the mud.
The celebration at Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center drew over 700 visitors, while Children’s Museum of Houston attracted over two thousand parents and children.
A special art exhibition, “Celebrating a New Day,” was installed at the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, on display from March 21 to June 3. The exhibit featured work by four local Ismaili artists who contributed a variety of symbolic artwork involving representations of nature in springtime and abstract visuals influenced by Islamic geometry.
Beyond these events, “The Council has developed a strong partnership with the museum, leading to many educational opportunities,” according to Neelam Damani, Children’s Museum of Houston Director of Gallery Education. For example, the museum educators have conducted a series of early childhood trainings with teachers, parents and volunteers for the Early Childhood Development Center in Houston and routinely deliver kit-based activities. Also in Atlanta, the Council’s relationship with the museum continues to develop with more events being planned to enhance cultural awareness in children ages.