Walking into the world-renowned Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is exciting — there are so many intriguing things to explore, and it can be hard to choose where to start.
That’s why the MOA has created Culture Club, a monthly drop-in program for families. According to MOA’s Education Assistant, Anna Nielsen, Culture Club aims to “open up the museum, make it a bit more family-friendly, and create opportunities for intergenerational learning and family bonding.”
Culture Club takes place on the last Sunday of each month. May was the second session of Culture Club and centered around the traditional Mexican art of papel picado. Each Culture Club has a different theme, and this one was inspired by the current MOA exhibition titled “Xicanx: Dreamers + Changemakers / Soñadores + creadores del cambio.” Pronounced “CHI-CAN-X,” Xicanx is the gender-neutral form of “Chicano/a,” a word used to refer to people of Mexican American heritage.
Culture Club is cleverly structured into three complementary activities for families based on the “head, hands, and heart” education model.
First, families are invited to take part in a story telling activity representing the “heart.” For May’s papel picado session, Culture Club began with Xicanx artist Carmen Keitsch reading a storybook called “A Gift from Abuela” with participating families. Anna explains that “the story is about a granddaughter and a grandmother, their relationship, and how papel picado, or cut paper, connects the two of them. Now we’re providing this opportunity for families to get that same experience, where they together can make papel picado.”
Second, in the “hands” part of the program, Culture Club provides an activity for families that offers “an intentional practice that connects to the theme.” Last week in the brightly decorated Learning Lab, children, parents, couples, and grandparents all came together to create papel picado. This connection between generations is important because "parents [and guardians] are meant to be just as involved as the kids.”
Finally, as the “head” part of the programming, Culture Club provides a kid-friendly guidebook for families to explore artworks and cultural belongings related to the monthly theme. The guidebook includes pointers for collections that kids may be interested in, questions to inspire kids to use their imagination, and spaces for drawings. As exploring a museum can be difficult for little kids, Anna shows that the guidebook is “meant to give families a bit of structure for leading their kids through exhibits.”
“By increasing our family programming and changing the way we speak about different pieces in the guide for kids and for families we can really engage with these [younger] audiences.”
Xicanx just opened this month and will be at MOA until January 1, 2023. Anna, who facilitates Culture Club, is a fan of the exhibition and gave us some recommendations for some of the best pieces to look out for:
“One is Citlali, she's a Xicanx anti-hero, or superhero, she is stunning. I am absolutely in love with her. [The painting of her is] one of the things I point kids to, she's larger than life!
The other thing would be Lotería, Mexican bingo. It’s interactive, it has four seats so a family can sit down and play the game in the exhibition, and it's also representative of the San Antonio town [a city in Texas with a large Xicanx community]. It's just nice to give an opportunity to really insert yourself into an exhibit and really engage with it.”
Culture Club happens on the last Sunday of every month from 11:00am – 12:30pm, and is free with museum admission. Admission is always free for Indigenous People, UBC students, faculty, staff, and residents of Acadia Park and UNA. Visit MOA’s website to learn more about each upcoming monthly theme and plan a visit to MOA to check out Culture Club!
Interview and Photos by: Bowen Wright, Community Events Programmer Co-op Student