By Yanxuan Li
BU News Service
Boston – Visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts faced a line stretching to Forsyth Way and a wait time of at least 20 minutes on Saturday as they awaited the Lunar New Year celebrations and special exhibits.
“We have so many visitors this year,” said Irene Chen, a guide at the MFA who offered spotlight talks in Mandarin. “Thus, we newly recruited two Mandarin-speaking guides to help with the work.”
The MFA has always offered a Mandarin tour, which Chen has guided for three years now. Besides the growing need for Mandarin programs, she also noticed the diversification of the visitors.
“Lunar New Year is not conceived merely as an eastern tradition now,” Chen said. “It is more and more becoming a ‘family day.’ We offered activities that, besides spotlighting the special culture, also gave a chance of family gathering.”
Saturday’s open house consisted of three parts: visitors could go on tours or talks highlighting works in the Art of Asia galleries; watch demonstrations and performances of China, Korea and Vietnam; and participate in the hands-on family art-making activities
The family friendly sections like art-making workshops and interactive lion dances in the Shapiro Family Courtyard attracted crowds of participants like Qin Lin and her six-year-old daughters, who were trying to make a lantern for their home in Quincy.
“It’s traditional for Chinese families to hang out the hand-made lanterns and of course I’d like to do that as long as we successfully made one,” Qin said with a laugh. “But anyway, the thing is to enjoy the process of making it, especially for my daughters.”
As Nikita Lin, one of Qin’s daughters, was gluing the lantern, a group of dancers on the other side of the hall attracted her attention. The performers were dressed up as lions and monkeys, being circled by people of all ages, with children sitting in the front.
Sifu Mai Du, the director of the performances and one of the instructors of the performers, said the group of 50 representative students from Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Acadamy who had practiced for this event for months.
“Caitlin and Wesley are the youngest here,” Sifu Mai said as she pointed to two children standing in the first line in the Wah Lum Kung Fu performance. “[They] just turned four years old.”
The celebration also drew the attention of Bangyi Ma and his son Zhengyao Ma who were passing by.
“My son has an art class today in the MFA,” said Bangyi Ma. “We just passed by and happened to see this. I think my son almost becomes their fans now, right?” Zhengyao Ma smiled shyly as his father turned to him.
The MFA Lunar New Year celebration lasted seven hours and kicked off a series of New Year activities throughout the city. Throughout the next week, Chinatown will embrace a New Years Parade, a New Years Concert and a Chinese New Year Cultural Village in which residents can buy crafts for Lunar New Year and make lanterns to send good luck into the year of the dog.