The Year of The Monkey at @PennMuseum

Say it Rah-shay By Jan 15, 2016 No Comments

Swing on into the Year of the Monkey at the Penn Museum’s 35th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 30, 2016, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The festive day features traditional music and dance, tai chi and tangram workshops and martial arts presentations, family crafts and much more—with the grand finale drums and the roar of the lion dance and parade. Activities are held in the China Gallery, which houses one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country, and throughout the international galleries of Museum. A special red envelope of surprises awaits every family who attends the festivities!

The celebration, one of Philadelphia’s oldest, is free with Museum admission donation ($15, general admission; $13, seniors [65+]; $10, children [6-17] and full-time students [with ID]; $2 ACCESS Card holders; free to children under 5, members, active U.S. Military, STAMP and PennCard holders).

At 11:00 am, Chinese painting instructor Onlei Annie Jung leads a drop-in painting workshop to teach basic stroke techniques of monkey images. At 2:00 pm, she returns for a separate workshop to explain the seven tans of the tangram, an ancient Chinese puzzle game believed to have been invented in China during the Song Dynasty, and introduced in Europe in the early 19th century.

Guided family tours at 12:30 pm and 2:45 pm wind through the Museum to find monkeys and primates, exploring how they were valued in other cultures. Tour stops include the Egypt gallery, the Mexico and Central America gallery, and the Human Evolution: The First 200 Million Years exhibition.

Qin Qian and local musician and instructor Kurt Jung perform modern and traditional Chinese melodies on the erhu (Chinese two-string fiddle) and the yangchin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) at 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm. Mr. Jung also discusses the role of music in ancient Chinese society in these sessions.

Students from the Penn Chinese Language Program lead a family storytime at 1:00 pm featuring the adventure book Journey to the West (Monkey), a novel published during the Ming Dynasty and considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The tale weaves the historical pilgrimage of a Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk with folk tale elements and imaginative, comical elements.

In China, tai chi is categorized as a martial art applied with internal power. Focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Sifu John Chen and his students from the Ba’z Tai Chi and Kung Fu Studio offer an interactive workshop at 1:30 pm. At 2:30 pm, guests can join Falun Gong practitioners from the Greater Philadelphia Falun Dafa Association for sets of gentle and relaxing exercises.

Beginning at 2:15 pm, the award-winning Great Wall Chinese School Little Mulan Dance Troupe performs a selection of traditional and folk dances from China.

Throughout the day, a Chinese Art Marketplace provides activities for families, including a Year of the Monkey craft station, and paper cutting presentations by local artists. Chinese calligraphy painters write on red paper, in the newer Spring Festival tradition of pasting special couplets on every door in the home.

Members of Cheung’s Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy offer a dynamic, Shaolin-style Kung Fu demonstration at 3:00 pm, then treat visitors to the sharp footwork and pulsating drums of a spectacular Grand Finale Lion Dance to chase away evil and usher in good luck for the year.

The Pepper Mill Café joins the festivities by offering a selection of Chinese lunch entrées and kid-friendly foods.

The Epoch Times, media sponsor of the 35th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration at the Penn Museum, joins in the festivities with free copies of their weekly, Chinese language newspaper.

The Celebration is the second in the Museum’s World Culture Day series. Guests can pick up a Passport to Cultures upon arrival, and begin collecting their 10 stamps to earn an invitation to a special Penn Museum Junior Anthropologist ceremony!


Traditional Chinese element theory assigns one of five elements to each year of every zodiac sign: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. Fire is the element associated with this Year of the Monkey. In particular, Fire Monkey attributes include having a harmonious family, being popular among friends, and a tendency to relocate from their hometowns to find success. Famous people born in fire monkey years include Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks, and Dr. Mae Jemison.


Families can explore extraordinary artistic achievements of the Chinese through artifacts including silk paintings, jade and coral figurines, bronze vessels, stone sculptures, and glazed pottery. Guests can also view the Museum’s distinctive 19th-century crystal ball—the centerpiece of the rotunda—as well as renowned Chinese Buddhist sculptures, and the stone reliefs of Emperor Taizong’s favorite horses Curly and Autumn Dew.


The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind’s collective heritage.

The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn’s campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA’s Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.

Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop offers a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.


Image captions (top to bottom): Lion dances at the Penn Museum’s annual Chinese New Year celebration. (Photo: Penn Museum). Sifu John Chen at the Ba’z Tai Chi and Kung Fu Studio leads Penn Museum guests in a Tai Chi demonstration. (Photo: Penn Museum). Penn Museum’s Chinese New Year Celebration includes a Shaolin-style Kung Fu demonstration by students from Cheung Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy. (Photo: Penn Museum). Dancers from The Great Wall School Little Mulan Dance Troupe perform. (Photo: Penn Museum).



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