International Children’s Day

Today is International Children’s Day, and three ITP fellows have written for the blog to mark the day:

Rige Shiba (ITP 2013, India) tells us about India’s own Children’s Day and how it was celebrated this year at her museum
Zohreh Baseri (ITP 2007, Iran) shares with us some children’s activities held at her museum in Iran
Ishaq Mohammed Bello (ITP 2012, Nigeria) presents one of his museum stories for children.


Rige Shiba
Children’s Day Celebrations at the National Museum, New Delhi

Children's Day

Like all important days and festivals, Children’s Day is celebrated with much vigor and zest across India. For those who aren’t aware, Children’s Day in India falls on the birthday of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawahara Lal Nehru. As such, 14th November came to be celebrated as Children’s Day in India, while International Children’s Day falls on 20th November.

IMG_0807In 1951, a United Nations Social Welfare Fellow, Mr. V.K Kulkarni, during his research on rehabilitation of children in the UK, recognised that unlike in the UK, where Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday was celebrated as Flag Day to raise money for Save the Children, India had no establishment which took care of underprivileged children (The Tribune, 2005). This encouraged him to present a report to the UN where he suggested 14th November – Pandit Jawahar Lal’s birthday – should be celebrated as Flag Day in India. The first ever Children’s Day was celebrated in 1954. And the rest is history!

Museums across India and other cultural institutions make the most of this day and utilise this special occasion to connect more with younger audiences. The National Museum in New Delhi has been working on ways to make this day a memorable and enriching one for all audiences. Children’s Day is also an apt occasion to involve all departments of the museum and offer fun-filled learning sessions. National Museum New Delhi’s 2017 Children’s Day programme was as vibrant as the calendar promised! It was an assortment of activities for children, families, children with disabilities et al.

IMG_0845The workshop Harappan Seal Making with Family and Friends was inspired by the enduring trend of releasing commemorative postal stamps celebrating Children’s Day. One of the many purposes that the Harappan seals served was to act as an identity marker of the people associated with them and, similarly, modern stamps represent a nation, state, an individual of great stature, or often royal families.

14Divine Touch was a tactile art workshop bringing the National Museum collection a notch closer to people with special needs, and was developed with an approach towards engaging with the stories of the various divinities in the collection.

Similarly the Gods & Temples Treasure Hunt was an excellent opportunity for the ever-so-happy children from the Magic Bus NGO to design a temple with treasures collected during the hunt!

This Children’s Day, the National Museum in New Delhi presented a great range of activities that had lots to offer to all types of audiences visiting the museum.

After all, why should only kids have all the fun?!

Zohreh Baseri
Working with children at National Museum of Iran

Children’s Day reminds us all of the rights of the child – their natural right to have a childhood. To be free from poverty, violence and slavery. To have a home, good nutrition, health, safety, education and hope for the future. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in place since 1990, reminds us of this and asks us to adhere to it.

These images show museum activities for children held here in Iran:

Workshop for children, learning to write their names in Cuneiform on clay tablets

Elementary school children in the Islamic Museum exhibition hall, having a history lesson with Ms Ameneh Baseri, Head of the Islamic Museum (Masters Culture and Ancient Languages)

Ishaq Mohammed Bello
Museum Stories for Children, National Museum Kaduna
Clay and Civilisation

IMG_20171108_132524During the Eid al-Fitr holiday period, people visit each other’s families and gather in the big family home to exchange greetings. Musa, Ishaq, Abbas and Imam went to their grandfather’s house.

Mohammed Bello, their grandfather, is rich and owns a big mansion that has a beautiful garden. The grandchildren ran into the garden to have fun with soil and water as usual. They were playing with clay and throwing it to each other.

Suddenly, their grandpa walked into the garden and saw the mess they were making. He became angry and yelled at them.

IMG_20171109_165323Grandfather:   Boys why are you doing this to yourselves and the garden?
Boys:                 Grandpa, we mean no harm to anyone. We are only playing.
Grandfather:   Didn’t you find anything other than clay to play with?
Boys:                 We were amazed by the water being mixed with soil to become clay.
Grandfather:   Do you know what clay is used for?
Boys:                 No, grandpa
Grandfather:   Boys, clay is an important material in the life of man and it holds the key to civilisation.
The boys were puzzled…
Boys:                 The key to civilization? How is that, grandpa?
Grandfather:   Do you want me to tell you story of man and how he made clay an important item in his life?
Boys:                 Yes grandpa, we love stories
Grandfather:   The story is not like any other story, it is real and I want you to memorise it well.
Boys:                 Yes, grandpa.
Grandfather:   Thousand of years ago, man was living in the prairies and hunting for food. Then he invented a way to live a better life – with agriculture, domestic animals and the miracle of clay, with which he was able to make so many things to fulfill his needs.
Boys:                What were those needs, grandpa?
Grandfather:  Man needed a house to live in, and he made one out of clay with a mix of different items to produce bricks. His need for food and drink made him make big jars and pots. And his need for writing made him make tables to write and keep records of important things.
Islam:              These are amazing things, grandpa.
Grandfather:  Yes, Islam, they are, and there is a lot more.
Abbas:             Tell us more, grandpa.
Grandfather:  There are a lot of discoveries made by archaeologists in the northern part of Nigeria – they are called Nok culture.
Ishaq:               Grandpa what is Nok culture?
Grandfather:  Nok culture is a name given to all the antiques discovered by archaeologists that are similar in the process of making, the materials and the time period they were used. Nok is a village in the Jaba municipality of Kaduna State, and the antiques are believed to have first been discovered in the village. Nok culture is a culture spread across many places in the north. For example Sokoto, Katsina, Jama’a, Katsina Ala and Jos.
Ishaq:               Where can we find all these clay things?
Grandfather:  They are found in the museum, son, and they are regarded as antiques to be maintained and protected.
Boys:                Why do we have to maintain, protect and keep them?
Grandfather:  Because they are the history of civilisation. Our ancestors left them to us.
Boys:                Yes, Grandfather, we will take good care of them as you said and protect them for future generations to see too. Because they are part of a great civilisation.
Grandfather:  Good boys. I want you to tell this story well to your friends. Remember to tell them to visit the museum.