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Over the past twenty years, the Freeman Foundation has made a major investment to help children learn about and understand East Asian cultures. In partnership with the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), the Freeman Foundation established a successful model to develop hands-on exhibits that travel to children’s museums throughout the United States. This traveling exhibit model has been effective, with a total of twelve impactful exhibits created for two national tours. Each tour reached 3.4 million people—or 6.8 million visitors total.
These two national tours reached communities throughout the United States, but were particularly successful in reaching major urban areas or their suburbs, with a few notable exceptions. Many communities with a children’s museum have not yet benefitted from hosting a Freeman exhibit. In thinking on how to best reach smaller urban and rural museums, ACM also wanted to factor in that children’s museums, especially smaller museums, report a preference for permanent exhibits, which can encourage visitors’ deep and ongoing relationship with the content, or can be used in more flexible programming spaces.
This new round of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series will create modular exhibits about East Asian cultures for museums, which can be used in galleries and in outreach events. These new exhibits have a smaller footprint (500–1,000 square feet), and museums can rearrange them to fit in smaller or larger spaces. Museums are also strongly encouraged to share these exhibits with community and regional partners, such as libraries, community centers, or schools. By remaining at the museum and in the community, the modular exhibit’s content becomes a part of children’s long-term memories, and can create a deeper experience than the temporary attraction of a traveling exhibit.
Prototypes of the five newest Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series exhibits were unveiled at InterActivity 2022: PLAY The Long Game, hosted by The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, May 16-18. Read below for more information about these exhibits prototypes.
Please note, the images below are examples final exhibits provided my ACM members.