Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the Smithsonian

May 1, 2018
News Release
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The Smithsonian invites the public to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May through a series of vibrant performances, lectures, family activities and exhibitions at its museums. All programs are fee unless otherwise indicated.

Feature Event

On Saturday, May 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Family Day in its Kogod Courtyard. The day will feature scavenger hunts, performances and arts and crafts. Visitors can make a parol lantern based on those of the Philippines or create a rubbing inspired by work currently featured in the exhibition “Do Ho Suh: Almost Home.”

Bring the Kids

Saturday, May 5, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will host Art and Me: Solving Art Mysteries with Science. Participants can visit the exhibition “Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha” then join a museum conservator to make an “examination kit.” Two sessions will be held, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Registration is required at freersackler.si.edu. For ages 3–5.

Mondays, May 14 and 28, the National Portrait Gallery presents Young Portrait Explorers. Children ages 5 and up can discover the Portrait Gallery through art, stories and hands-on art activities. Groups meet in the G Street lobby at 10:30 a.m. Registration is required at npg.eventbrite.com.

Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors can celebrate Vesak, a holiday commemorating the Buddha’s birth and enlightenment, at the Freer|Sackler. They will tour the exhibition “Encountering the Buddha,” meet local Buddhist practitioners and watch short films by the Freer|Sackler Teen Council. Members of the Silkroad Ensemble will perform.

Saturday and Sunday, May 19–20, the National Museum of the American Indian presents the Hawai`i Festival: He Lani Ko Luna (A Sky Above) 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This two-day Hawaiian cultural festival features performances, food demonstrations, storytelling and hands-on activities for all ages. Visitors can learn about traditional Hawaiian methods of wayfinding, make their own leis and discover star names in the Hawaiian language.

The National Portrait Gallery’s Education Center will host Portrait Story Days on Saturdays and Sundays in May. Participants can listen to stories of noteworthy figures from American history, then work on art projects inspired by their lives. Featured figures include actress Anna May Wong, pop artist Roger Shimomura and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi.


Monthly Matinees: Japanese Classics
First Wednesday of every month the Freer|Sackler will screen a classic Japanese film in the Meyer Auditorium.

Wednesday, May 2; 2 p.m.
class="rteindent1">In this film by Juzo Itami, an enigmatic band of ronin guide a noodle shop owner’s widow on her quest for the perfect recipe. (Japanese with English subtitles)

Mixed Match
Friday, May 4; 2 p.m.
National Museum of the American Indian
This film explores the challenges faced by mixed-race blood cancer patients attempting to find bone marrow matches for transplant. In their seemingly impossible search for donors, these young patients discover what role race plays in medicine. In attendance will be director Jeff Chiba Stearns; Dr. David Jacobsohn, division chief, Blood and Marrow Transplantation at Children’s National Health System; and Marc Silver of the Be the Match national bone marrow donor program.

Screening the Buddha
May 4–13
Freer|Sackler Meyer Auditorium
In conjunction with the exhibition “Encountering the Buddha,” the Freer|Sackler presents a global tour of the Buddhist experience on film. Copresented by the Buddhist Film Foundation. Buddhist Film Foundation director Gaetano Kazuo Maida will introduce all screenings. 

Golden Kingdom
Friday, May 4; 7 p.m.
This vivid film, shot on location in Myanmar, is infused with both Burmese folk stories and Buddhist tradition. The film’s director, Brian Perkins, will attend the screening. (Burmese with English subtitles)

My Son Tenzin
Sunday, May 6; 1 p.m.
A warm-hearted, clear-eyed look at life in exile for a generation of Tibetans separated from their homeland by more than distance. Director Tashi Wangchuk, a veteran radio producer, will be available at the screening.

The Three Marks of Existence
Sunday, May 6; 3 p.m.
Buddhist teachings are presented with humor and lightheaerted charm in this find from the International Buddhist Film Festival Bangkok. A young Thai man goes on the classic Buddhist pilgrimage tour in India and Nepal. (English and Thai with English subtitles)

Zen for Nothing
Friday, May 11; 7 p.m.
Swiss novice Sabine learns the ropes at Antaji, in Japan. Director Werner Penzel will attend the screening. (English, Japanese and German with English subtitles)

Honeygiver Among the Dogs
Sunday, May 13; 2 p.m.
When a woman goes missing from a small village, policeman Kinley is put on the case, but the missing woman is the abbess of a Buddhist nunnery, and there are some unexpected forces at work. (Dzongkha with English subtitles)


On Saturday, May 5, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Anacostia Community Museum presents South Asian dance company Dakshina. The group will perform tradition and contemporary works based on Hindu themes at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave. S.E.

Saturday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. The Freer Gallery of Art, in collaboration with the Embassy of Indonesia, presents Master Javanese dancers accompanied by a classical gamelan ensemble. The group will perform pieces from the court tradition of central Java as well as a new work. The event is held in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium.

Friday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m., the Silkroad Ensemble will perform in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium. Members of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble will perform a composition written for the museum, inspired by artwork on view in the galleries. The Silkroad Ensemble will also perform a variety of pop-up solo and group performances throughout the Freer and Sackler galleries Saturday, May 19, from noon to 4 p.m.


On Tuesdays in May, visitors can take a moment to experience the benefits of meditation at free half-hour Meditation and Mindfulness drop-in sessions in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium. Sessions start at 12:15 p.m.

On Sunday, May 13, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Sackler Gallery will host a Javanese dance workshop. Participants will learn techniques of traditional and modern Javanese dance from two masters. No experience necessary, for ages 16 and older. Tickets are $25 at freeersackler.si.edu.


“Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” is on exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Korean American artist Do Ho Suh is internationally renowned for his “fabric architecture” sculptures that explore the global nature of contemporary identity as well as memory, migration and the ideas of home. Suh’s immersive architectural installations—unexpectedly crafted with ethereal fabric—invite visitors to walk through spaces that are at once deeply familiar and profoundly alien.

“Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia” is on exhibit at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Visitors can step into a Tibetan Buddhist shrine, linger at a Sri Lankan stupa, “travel” with an eighth-century Korean monk and discover remarkable objects along the way. The exhibition draws upon the Freer|Sackler’s collections of works from Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, China and Japan.

“Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha” is on display at the Sackler Gallery through June 10. This exhibition brings together for the first time the only known sixth- and seventh-century life-size Chinese lacquer representations of Buddha and examines the way the sculptures were made, offering new insights into these deceptively simple objects.

Also on exhibit at the Sackler Gallery are “Resound: Ancient Bells of China,” an unrivaled collection of ancient Chinese bells, where visitors can listen to compositions written for the set and “play” the bronze bells, and “To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia,” a collection of colorful ikat robes and wall hangings from 19th-century Uzbekistan, on exhibit through July 29.

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