Nepal Children’s Art Museum

December 19, 2013 , by Jerusha Rai, Leave your thoughts
Nepal Children’s Art Museum » My Dreams Mag

Perhaps the arts are considered less important in societies of necessity, where the functional is prized over the aesthetic. Paradoxically, it is extreme need that pushes the mind to imagine beyond immediate reality, the urge to fill that lack with something concrete. And if you’re of a certain disposition, to create by yourself that which makes life bearable. And here I quote my favourite writer, Tom Robbins, “The purpose of art is to provide what life does not”.

It cannot be denied that art education is of least concern to a developing nation. This is reflected in the subjective, personal experiences in the family lives of our citizens . We’ve all tried out the awkward joke about Asian parents prizing a career as a doctor or engineer for their children. My artist friends, 20 or 30 somethings, have many a times clashed with their parents on the matter, and here is when it ceases to be a mere joke. This is not young people going through a rebellious, anti-establishment phase that will pass as they enter adulthood. This is an entire generation struggling to stay true to their natural inclinations in the face of parental disapproval, possible unemployment and severe lack of resources or guidance. The alternative – compromising your interests in the pursuit of a more ‘practical’ career- seems even more bleak to me. The psycho-social strain of a life-long dissatisfaction. And we haven’t even begun to analyse the loss of cultural expression of youths. Or the lost opportunity for the country to benefit, culturally and economically, from such artistic enrichment.

There is good news though. Upcoming generations of artists may not have to be ‘doomed romantics’.


Image: blogs.worldlearning.org

Nepal Children’s Arts Museum (NCAM) is set to open in the heart of Kathmandu in 2014. We talk to Sneha about the project and her thoughts on art education in Nepal.


1. How is the NCAM project coming along? How has it been received by the general public?

The project is coming along really well. We have an amazing team and we work really well together. We launched our Community Outreach (CO) program in June after we decided to construct our own space instead of renting out one. We figured the CO program will be a good way to introduce NCAM to the city. We’ve done workshops for children, trainings for our volunteers and even painted huge murals with tiny young artists. Even without a physical place for the museum, the response has been so great…I can’t wait for our space to be ready!

Is there a particular group of children that the project is targeted towards? 

The museum doesn’t have a specific target group because all children need art. Also, the museum is for children and youth and artists. We have workshops for children so far but we’ve had training sessions for youth to empower them in their creative processes as well. Once our museum space is ready, we are offering workshops for youth and residencies for local and international artists.

Your observations on the current situation of art education in Nepal and its future potential…

Nepal is still in the initial phases of art education. Government schools mostly don’t have art as a subject at all. There are however schools that don’t just have art as a subject but also understand the concept of art education. There is no doubt a lot of potential for art education. One of NCAM’s goals is to include art as part of children’s education in schools so this will hopefully be a step towards art education in Nepal.

Sneha Shrestha, Nepal Children's Art Museum
Why is art important for children and youth?

Research shows that children who are exposed to art do better in their studies, especially math. Several studies also show that art is good for children because the immediate outcome of a finished product of making art makes them proud of themselves. I’d like to add that art museums are also important for children as they’ve shown to improve children’s critical thinking skills.

But besides research and paperwork, I haven’t seen ONE child or youth sad to be making art. Not in my 3 years working in Boston, not my 4 months of working to establish NCAM where I’ve made art with over 300 children and youth. Moreover, art gives people that power of imagination where they can create anything! Art is very important.

5. What does art have to offer to society in general?

Different perspectives and a tickle of imagination!

Tell us more about your search for your cultural identity through your art.

This need to understand myself and my culture and where I come from. It felt more and more urgent as I began to explore my artwork out of college and into the real working world. I was exposed to graffiti and I found my identity and my culture in one; by merging graffiti and Nepali letters.

Sneha Shrestha

7. Any advice for young Nepali artists?

Keep it original. Stay true to yourself and your work. That’s all I have to say really, and those are the key things to keep in mind.



NCAM has already reached numerous young people, recruiting them as volunteers and reaching out to children. Volunteers are trained in NCAM workshops to facilitate community art programs. They have recently collaborated with Half the Sky film festival to show a documentary about violence against women. Just this month they organized a Hand-washing awareness day involving school-children in making a mural in their school.

It is very encouraging to see the efforts of young volunteers with Sneha’s leadership and vision. Perhaps even more so, for cleverly using art as a tool for engaging children to talk about important life issues. 

Nepal Children's Art Museum
The construction of the art museum is excitingly well under way. But the project still requires $5k for completion. If you would like to support this wonderful initiative, you can email them at 

Facebook: Nepal Children’s Art Museum



Text by: Jerusha Rai

Images: NCAM/Imagine Nation

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