The New York Times reported that “America to Zanzibar: Muslim cultures Near and Far” was so popular at Children’s Museum of Manhattan when it opened, its run was extended by a year. The exhibit went on tour in 2018; it comes to Omaha Children’s Museum in January.

As you’re piecing together family plans for 2020, Omaha Children’s Museum invites you to consider a globe-trotting journey of cultural exploration. No passport required.

The journey, “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far,” is an interactive exhibit that blends art, architecture, travel, trade, design and more, connecting visitors to the diversity of Muslim cultures in Omaha, the U.S. and abroad.

Created by Children’s Museum of Manhattan, it opens Jan. 18 and runs through April 19.

“It is a beautiful exhibit, very well-curated and thought through,” says Lindy Hoyer, the museum’s executive director. “We were attracted to the subject matter and this opportunity to present an exhibit that explores a culture that is prevalent worldwide and right here in our community.”

The 3,000-square-foot exhibit consists of five major sections:

• Global Marketplace where children can pretend to buy and sell goods from around the world.

• Trade Routes featuring a replica of a multilevel Indian Ocean dhow (boat).

• Muslim Courtyard for exploring elements of design, water and geometric patterns.

• Architecture, a 3-D exploration of mosque architecture from the Maldives to China.

• American Home, a living room filled with items donated by American Muslims.

Beyond providing a unique, engaging experience, Hoyer hopes “America to Zanzibar” will encourage dialogue on the impact of Muslim cultures and increase understanding of our own social identities (the part of our self-concept that stems from our connection to a group or groups).

“We come out of the womb hard-wired to notice differences,” Hoyer says. “Research tells us parents are less apt to want to talk with their children about those differences. Adults tend to stiffen up, sending a message to kids that it’s wrong to notice our differences. We’re hoping this exhibit will let families start to have dialogue around cultural and social identity and explore similarities rather than differences.”

Hoyer says the museum saw that kind of interaction in the summer of 2018 when it welcomed “Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character & Confucius.”

The museum’s annual Worldfest, which celebrates the cultures of Omaha’s sister cities, also fosters awareness and understanding.

Learn more at www.ocm.org

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