CHICAGO, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- After marking Chinese Lunar New Years for consecutive three years and achieving fruitful results, the Art Institute of Chicago has enlarged its vision and will celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which will fall on Sept. 15 this year.
The museum has raked through more than 3,500 pieces of collections from China and will exhibit a "Chang E" painting finished in the late Yuan Dynasty or early Ming Dynasty (AD 1350-1400), to cater to the Chinese saying that the Mid-Autumn Festival, or a harvest festival celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, is inspired by the legend of Chang E, the Chinese goddess of the Moon.
The painting was originally painted on a bamboo or wood frame and functioned as a fan.
Some other rare Chinese artworks fresh from the museum's collections will also be displayed during the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration period from Sept. 10 to 18.
The museum will also offer visitors bi-lingual self-guided mini-tour and free-curator-led public tours services, provide mooncakes, Asian specialties and Chinese Tsingtao Beer, and stage the performance of the Legend of Chang E.
In the eyes of Wang Tao, director of the Department of Asian Art and curator of Chinese Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, the festival is kind of like the Thanksgiving in Western countries, which brings together family members and friends to celebrate the harvest and the moon.
"Overseas Chinese have a cultural root. Seeing Chinese cultural relics in museums overseas has a special meaning to them, and can help them feel the flow of their cultural blood," Wang said.
By launching the celebration, the Art Institute of Chicago wants to give out a simple message: "the Art Institute has a major commitment to the Chinese community," said David Thurm, Chief Operating Officer of the institute.
Nora Gainer, director of Tourism Marketing Department of the Art Institute of Chicago, said: "we have performances, mooncakes, we are making a moment that will not only be enjoyed by Chinese visitors, but also Americans who are interested in Chinese culture."
To attract more Chinese visitors, the institute is the first museum outside China that opened Weibo, the Chinese version of twitter, and WeChat, a cross-platform instant messaging service developed by China's Tencent.
It has also entered into a partnership with China's UnionPay, and holders of UnionPay cards beginning with digital 62 can get a "buy-one-get-one (ticket) free" bonus.
Thanks to these efforts, Chinese visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago have kept increasing. The museum received 15,000 Chinese visitors in 2015, up 50 percent from 2014. It is expected to receive 17,735 Chinese visitors in 2016.
Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. It houses more than 300,000 works of art in 10 curatorial departments.