WATCH | America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far is an exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan that is estimated to be seen by 350,000 visitors a year.
Visitors are encouraged to interact with the different sections of the exhibit, from a virtual tour of mosques around the world to a pretend marketplace, to a screen that teaches you how to say "my name is" in different languages. "They're immersive, they're hands on, they're interactive, they're multi-sensory. Basically, we're wanting the child's natural curiosity to be completely catered to," said Lizzy Martin, Director of Exhibit Development and Museum Planning . "We want them to touch, to smell, to feel, and almost to pretend that they are of the culture themselves."
Creating activities that are familiar to all children allows for them to better understand a culture that may seem distant at first, according to Martin. "These are very universal themes. Every family has seen courtyards or market places, or has traveled and has seen boats or cars," she says. "So for us it was then saying, 'okay, now that we know that these are universal themes everyone can identify with, where in Muslim cultures are they unique and cool?'" That idea informed the creation of the different pieces of the exhibit, which the museum worked on for seven years before unveiling to the public.
WATCH: The Children's Museum of Manhattan regularly holds cultural performances
[Kids] just kind of blend the cultures and the world together naturally, so for them it's this magical, local and yet universal experience.
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