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Manhattan Children's Museum Gets Funding for 'Muslim Worlds' Exhibit

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A festival celebrating Islamic culture at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. A festival celebrating Islamic culture at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. (Courtesy of the Children's Museum of Manhattan)

Whirling dervishes, mosaics and 1,001 tales will soon be coming to the Upper West Side, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. The Children's Museum of Manhattan says its future exhibition new "Muslim Worlds" is the first show of its kind in the U.S. geared toward a family audience.

"Muslim Worlds" will have hands-on exhibits, performances and other events geared toward getting children involved with the thousands of years of cultural heritage that has come from Muslim countries.

Though the museum promises to "bring to life the similarities and differences of Muslim cultures," John Jay College Sociology Professor Mucahit Bilici said that exhibits like this operate on the assumption that Muslim people are separate from American society.

Visitors to the Children's Museum of Manhattan dance as part of a festival celebrating Muslim culture."I would say that the major problem with this project is that it treats Muslims as exclusively external people -- as foreigners," he said. "I'm sure that a significant percentage of their audience, like the kids who will visit that exhibition, will be Muslim. I wish that they would be aware of this and that they would frame it in a much more inclusive way."

Cyrus McGoldrick, the civil rights manager of the New York Council on American Islamic Relations, argues that the exhibit will do good things for the Muslim community. He said a lot of the civil rights violations that he investigates happen to Muslim kids who are mocked by their peers at school. 

"Kids are growing up learning or inheriting bigotry and prejudice and using this rhetoric of Islamic terrorism against their fellow students," he said. "That tells me that kids are not immune to the aftereffects or the ripple effects of 9/11. But because of the availability of information, the world is much smaller and the city is much smaller. I hope that we can all be more acquainted with each other's cultures and this is a great place to start."

There is plenty of time for debate and polemics between supporters and detractors of the exhibit. The tentative start date for the "Muslim Worlds" exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan is 2014.

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Comments [4]

Ferde Rombola from USA

I wonder if this "Muslim Worlds" exhibit exhibits any evidence of the daily murder of Catholics and other Christians in Muslim countries like Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan. I would like to know what the Muslim members of CAIR have done to condemn these atricities in the countries mentioned, in their language and in their media. I wonder, too, whether American Muslims would support, and not concemn, these atrocities if they lived in the Muslim dominated countries.

It is a blessing for them that they live in a country where they are allowed to practice their faith in peace and freedom. Do they demand the same treatment for Christians from the Muslim governments who persecute them?

Dec. 20 2011 09:40 AM
Michael Andreae

There are three Jewish museums in Manhattan, all child friendly and interesting... Christian Art and Monuments are on display e.g. in the Cloisters and the Met. I would love to hear about a Hindu related exhibit...

Nov. 25 2011 01:33 PM
Anna Dean from Melbourne

Do other religions get a museum too? Or is that again the special treatment for Muslims only? How unfair! Everybody should be treated the same! If Islam gets a Museum for their religion, then I also want to have one for the Jewish faith the Christians, the Hindus etc

Oct. 06 2011 04:30 PM
steve from Earth

Where will they place it in relation to the "Jewish Worlds", "Hindu Worlds", and "Christian Worlds" exhibits?

Aug. 17 2011 08:46 AM

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