Celebrate the Lunar New Year!

Yellow Ox, Chinese, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Glazed stoneware, 9 1/4 x 21 x 13 inches. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust. Object number: 66-40. Location: Gallery 202

Join us for a virtual celebration of the Lunar New Year, a tradition enjoyed in China and in several East and Southeast Asian countries. Explore the art of Asian cultures, enjoy a dynamic dance performance, take A Step Back in Time, and connect with activities featuring the new year’s zodiac animal, the ox.

Starting in 1996, the museum has hosted an annual Chinese New Year Festival showcasing our world-renowned Chinese collection and local talent. This year we observe the Lunar New Year by reaching out to new communities to celebrate and learn together. Holiday dates, titles, and customs vary around the world, but marking a new year is something to be shared!

Let's Listen! Happy New Year!

Listen to community partners say “Happy New Year” in several languages, along with text.

The Lunar New Year is the observance of a new year in a lunar or lunisolar calendar. In 2021, it falls on February 12. Red is the main color for the festival, as red is auspicious or lucky. Envelopes with money inside and fireworks displays are among the traditions. Other ways to observe the new year are cleaning and decorating homes, sharing special meals with family and friends, and watching parades and lion dances.

Let's Create! The Lion Dance

Image example of the lion activity

For over a thousand years the Lion Dance, performed at Lunar New Year celebrations and other religious and cultural festivals, has expressed new beginnings and hope for the future. Scroll down to create your own playful lion puppet with paper and see lions from our past celebrations at the museum.
Download Lion Activity
Lion Activity Tutorial

Slides: Image 1: The spectacular Lion Dance brings good fortune throughout Asia. The Drum Roller group has kept this tradition at the start of the museum’s Chinese New Year festivals for years, including this event in 2017. Image 2: Male Lion (fu-lion), Chinese, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Porcelain, 29 1/2 in. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust. Object number: 72-29/3. Location: Gallery 202. Image 3: Colorful lions kept watch over the festivities during the 2019 Chinese New Year celebration.
Lion Dancers at the 2019 Chinese New Year Celebration Male Lion: on display in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Lion watching over Chinese New Year celebrations

Dynamic Performances

For this year’s virtual festival, we invite you to enjoy two new videos filmed at the museum. We are grateful for the hundreds of local dancers, demonstrators, and musicians who have shared their time and talent at the museum’s annual New Year festivals. In the future, we look forward to featuring even more cultures when we gather at the museum for the annual festival.

A Step Back in Time

Women prepare for the new year by doing paper cut, embroidery, dancing and playing music. Intricate hair styles, makeup, and dress adorn the women shown here in the Chinese Art galleries and Kirkwood Hall at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Director – Max Jiang, Actors – Joy Ruan, Song Lyu, Wanwan Cai, Fanyi Meng, Kelly Fu, Cinematographer – Max Jiang, Editor – Max Jiang, Hair – Max Jiang, Music – Qu Zhang.
Music 初见 from Chinese Dance Show courtesy《昭君出塞》 Composed by Qu Zhang

Lunar New Year Dance Performance

Promenade of the Maidens combines elements of traditional Chinese dance with more modern, western styles, such as jazz. In doing so, it embraces the newer parts of dance much like Lunar New Year celebrates fresh starts and welcomes the new year.

Performed by Jasmine Chinese Dance Group – Audrey Che, Elan Jiang, Rebecca Xue, Rylie Zhang and Catherine Zhao.

Zodiac Animal Hunt

The zodiac animals correspond to each year in a 12 year cycle. In calendar order, the 12 zodiac animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. Conventional wisdom tells us that individuals born in a particular year have the personality of that year’s animal.

2021 is the year of the ox, an animal that stands for diligence, dependability, strength, and determination.

Search for all the zodiac animals in our Zodiac Animal Scavenger Hunt and discover your zodiac animal and best character traits!

Zodiac Hunt

You can access our new Digital Family Gallery Guide when you visit the museum. You’ll find our Zodiac Hunt along with many other fun activities at naguide.org.
Family Gallery Guide

A family in the Chinese Temple rom

Thank You

Year of the Ox

Special thanks to participants and community partners who contributed to our virtual Lunar New Year festival:

  • Chinese Institute of Language and Culture
  • Chinese School of Greater Kansas City
  • Drum Roller
  • Geshe Tsewang Thinley and the Drepung Gomang Monastery
  • Heart of America Japan-America Society
  • Jasmine Chinese Dance Group
  • Korean American Society of Greater Kansas City
  • Max Jiang
  • Marti Wulandari Wilson
  • Taiwan-America Friendship Association

Thank you to Nelson-Atkins members — the art and soul of the museum — who make projects such as this possible.