In the middle of HaNoi there is a large building dedicated to children’s activities called the Children’s Palace. It was established in 1955 with painting classes for gifted children. Today, about 3,000 children get together every weekend for activities in dance, music, drawing, painting, singing, sports, natural sciences and English language studies.
We spoke with Mr. Nguyen Tien Dung, the head of the fine art department. “This is a nursery for artists. A place where many young children can develop their dreams and aspirations,” he proudly exclaimed. The prestigious ASEAN award of 2002, was captured by Mai Anh, a six year-old student of the HaNoi Children’s Palace. The center has always received strong support from established artists who trained the children. Painters such as Tran Van can, Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Do Cung and many others were teachers here. Do Thuy Hang, an artist and art director of a Theater Magazine says “I’ve been doing this for a long time. Teaching art to young children is a real treat for me, in spite of the weekend time I spend here. It’s my small way of giving something back to future generations,” she said.
Today, there are 117 classes and among the large teaching staff, about 45 volunteer artists. In the summer, the center is active all week with about 10,000 students attending. The cost for the weekend classes is a mere $2.00 U.S. per month.
“While a few of the children will become full time artists, it’s important to teach the young ones to observe, to see, to question,” says Dung. “Art appreciation will lead to sensitivity and self-confidence for the children.”
The Children’s Palace organizes many exhibitions and has affiliations with many similar center in HaNoi and surrounding areas. Photos in the story are from a recent day trip to the But Thap Pagoda, in the countryside near HaNoi, where 200 students from ages 6-12 were to be seen everywhere.