The largest country in Latin America and as diverse in terrain and cultures and languages as almost any place on earth, the exhibition on Brazil for the new Miami Children's Museum presented some difficult curatorial research. The museum had selected Brazil based on a visitor survey. But which parts, which cultures, which music of this vast country for an exhibition that would fit in 1500 square feet? My research in Rio de Janeiro quickly revealed that Brazil, among all the countries where Carnaval is celebrated, is the only country that has a parallel Carnaval celebration just for children -- a night of fabulous samba parades, costumes and music. Spending weeks at the Escola de Samba Mangueira with rehearsals at midnight and costume making all day long, Carnaval de Criancas (Chiildren's Carnaval) became a natural link to presenting Brazil to children in the US.
In a similar way, research with the Kayapó Indian group on a tributary of the Amazon led to witnessing an elaborate naming ceremony for children at three years of age. Months of fieldwork, superb guidance from a truly diverse group of Brazilians and the sheer joy of working in this country led to a stunning and exciting interactive exhibition which opened in January, 2004.