Children are encouraged to use all their senses in this Philly exhibit on Indian culture

Children "can learn about another culture while having fun," says the CEO of Philly’s Please Touch Museum.

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There’s lots for kids to see and do at Namaste India. (Courtesy The Magic House)

There’s lots for kids to see and do at Namaste India. (Courtesy The Magic House)

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Kids are encouraged to use all of their senses in this celebration of Indian culture and its vibrant food, art and traditions.

The Please Touch Museum is now featuring the “Namaste India” exhibit.

Chief Learning Officer Olivia Thomas said the temporary exhibit aims to inspire visiting children to compare their lives and those of Indian children.

It includes a traditional Indian schoolhouse where children can try on a uniform and sit for a lesson. There’s also a roadside restaurant, known as a dhaba, where they can pretend to work and prepare roti, a traditional Indian flatbread.

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Children can learn how to prepare favorite foods at the Namaste India exhibit. (Courtesy The Magic House)

Trish Wellenbach, president and CEO of the Please Touch Museum, said most museums ask visitors not to touch anything — however, studies show children learn best by playing.

The Please Touch Museum encourages kids to use all their senses to learn about different cultures. (Courtesy The Magic House)

“Play is a multi-sensory experience, and that includes allowing and encouraging children to touch, listen and explore,” she said.

Other displays feature cricket, a tuk-tuk, a motorized rickshaw, allowing visitors to hop inside and take a simulated ride, or sets where visitors can learn about the Indian film industry.

Kids learn about popular Indian sports at Namaste India. (Courtesy The Magic House)

“Bollywood is actually the largest film industry in the world,” Thomas said. “Visitors can see clips from Bollywood movies. They can walk the red carpet.”

Wellenbach said the Please Touch Museum brings in three temporary exhibits every year, sometimes representing vibrant cultures and communities from around the world.

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“For children that come from families of African American descent, Chinese descent, Japanese descent, Irish American, Italian American, Polish American,” she said. “They can learn about another culture while having fun.”

Children learn about traditional Indian schoolhouses at the exhibit. (Courtesy The Magic House)

Wellenbach said, “We certainly have a very diverse city. The Please Touch Museum is committed to creating experiences that reflect the city in which we live and the communities that we welcome.”

Lights, camera, action! Kids walking down the red carpet at the Bollywood exhibit. (Courtesy The Magic House)

Namaste India was created by The Magic House, a hands-on children’s museum in the St. Louis area, in collaboration with St. Louis’ Indian community.

Future planned exhibits at the Please Touch Museum include, “Wild Kratts: Creature Power!,” based on the TV series, XOXO (which originally opened in Feb. 2020, but was forced to close when the pandemic), exploring the theme of forgiveness, and an exhibit about underwater adventures titled “Voyage to the Deep.”

Regular admission is $22. EBT cardholders can visit the museum at a discounted rate of $2 through the Museums for All program.

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