The New York art scene got a little furry this week when the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted its annual Lunar New Year Festival. Every year, The Met observes the turning of the new lunar calendar in the best Chinese tradition. February 16 marked the first day of the Year of the Dog, and the four-legged representatives took over the museum to celebrate. They brought the community together for a day of fun and celebration mixed with informative lessons about both Chinese tradition and the role of dogs around the world.
The Met’s Department of Education planned and organized the six-hour festival to include musical performances, artist-led workshops, interactive gallery activities, and a parade led by the Chinese Center on Long Island Lion Troupe and New York Chinese Cultural Center. Chinese New Year marks the end of one lunar cycle and the beginning of the next. Every year is represented by one of the Chinese zodiac symbols, and 2018 is all about dogs. To commemorate this occurrence that only happens once every 12 years, The Met invited a few special guests to their festival.
Festival guests had the opportunity to learn about guide dog etiquette with working dogs from the Guide Dog Foundation. Guide dogs serve an important role within communities, but not everyone is familiar with their special place in society. They go through intense training to learn the skills and obedience they need to do their jobs well. A recent graduate of a guide dog training program and a few puppies ready to get started met with guests at The Met to celebrate the Year of the Dog and demonstrate exactly what they do.
After getting the chance to meet the dogs, guests were invited on a canine-inspired “scent tour” inspired by dogs’ impressive sense of smell. Tours wandered the galleries while using their noses to experience the world from a dog’s perspective. After the tour, human visitors got the chance to check out the installation called Celebrating the Year of the Dog. Six ancient artworks are featured all honoring this year’s zodiac animal. The pieces will be on display through July 4th.
At the end of the day, families visiting The Met learned more about the Chinese New Year as well as the animal that will go on to represent the rest of the lunar year.
Featured Photo by Flip Wolak. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art