Celebrate Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse, in...Kansas City?

Bruce N. Meyer
Although many of us are still recovering from our New Year's celebration and getting accustomed to writing 2014 instead of 2013 – it's time to start the party all over again. January 31 is the beginning of the Chinese year 4712, also known as The Year of The Horse. And for those of Chinese ancestry, this is the party of the year. Fireworks, parades, family gatherings -- it's like all North American holidays and celebrations rolled into one.

In addition to the 1.3 billion people celebrating on mainland China, millions more celebrate throughout the world, many who are not even Chinese. It's like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, right? The Chinese New Year is the day we all become just a little bit Chinese.

One of the big parties in the United States is at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri -– yes, Kansas City. The Nelson-Atkins is renowned for its 7,500-piece collection of Chinese art that includes masterpieces from every period and medium.

"Many of these treasures were acquired for the museum by Laurence Sickman, a Harvard-Yenching scholar resident in Beijing in the early 1930s who later became the museum's first curator of Oriental art," said Colin Mackenzie, senior curator of Chinese art.

The Friday night party celebrates the opening of a new exhibit -- "Living with the Spirits: Decorating Homes in Traditional China."

Chinese New Year at the Nelson includes performances by multiple traditional Chinese dance groups, tea demonstrations and tastings, lessons in Tai Chi and calligraphy. Chinese food will be available along with plum wines.

Chinese checkers tournaments are on the agenda along with another Chinese board game called Wei Qi and of course, the ever popular Chinese yo-yo. You can also dress in traditional Chinese clothing and take a brief spin in a rickshaw. Oh, the Facebook posts we anticipate from that outing.
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Nelson-Atkins Museum of ArtGuanyin of the Southern Sea, Liao (907-1125) or Jin Dynasty (1115-1234)
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