National Museum of Asian Art Announces Headliner for “IlluminAsia” Arts and Culture Festival: Award-Winning Indian American Musician Madame Gandhi

Festival Is Dedicated to Well-Being in Asian American and Asian Diasporic Communities—and Celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
April 29, 2024
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Woman with elbow-length sleeves holds her arms up above her head, with greenery in background.

Madame Gandhi / Image courtesy of TBA Agency

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art has announced the headline performer for its “IlluminAsia” Arts and Culture Festival, May 10 to May 12. Award-winning Indian American electronic music producer, drummer, artist and activist Madame Gandhi will perform Saturday, May 11, on the museum’s Freer Plaza on the National Mall. Her performance is the highlight of this year’s festival, dedicated to well-being in Asian American and Asian diasporic communities.

This year’s events will highlight topics related to Asian American and Asian diasporic communities, particularly stories and practices of mental health and wellness. Mindfulness practices will be integrated alongside arts and culture resources like music and reading lists that support mental health. Activities will include a care fair and happy hour with low-alcohol-by-volume/zero-proof drinks. All events are free of charge. Highlights from the full program are below and more details will be announced in the coming weeks. The public can follow #TheNext100 and @NatAsianArt for information about the events, including those that require tickets and registration.

This is the second season in a five-year initiative sponsored by Bank of America that supports annual celebrations during Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month.

“I want to thank Bank of America for their generous support that enables us to produce this powerful series of festivals and welcome a wide range of visitors to learn about the arts and cultures of Asia,” said Chase F. Robinson, the museum’s director. “Our museum is free and open to the public 364 days a year. This sponsorship allows us to offer programming—at no cost to visitors—focused on issues that are especially important to Asian American and Asian diasporic communities.”

“As a longtime Smithsonian partner, we recognize that art has the ability to create cultural understanding and spark meaningful conversations around the world,” said Brian Siegel, global arts, culture and heritage executive at Bank of America. “We hope that the ‘IlluminAsia’ Arts and Culture Festival will inspire individuals from all backgrounds to explore the rich tapestry of Asian arts and culture.”

This festival also received federal funding from the Asian Pacific American (APA) Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. These funds supported an April convening of an AANHPI Community Working Group focused on how arts, culture and museums can contribute to mental health and well-being. These discussions informed some of the National Museum of Asian Art’s “IlluminAsia” Arts and Culture Festival programming. APA Initiatives Pool funds also support festival weekend activities like a series of healing sound baths by Mel of Beyond Yoga, Zen journaling sessions with Made With Love DC and a Mother’s Day mindful paper bouquet workshop with Emily Paluska of Revery Paper Flora.  

Programming for the 2024 “IlluminAsia” festival includes:


  • Headline performance by Indian American musician Madame Gandhi
  • Healing sound baths throughout the museum led by Mel of Beyond Yoga
  • Friday evening listening lounge featuring Listening While Muslim
  • Music throughout Saturday by DJ Cinema Hearts
  • Silent disco in the courtyard featuring Les Talusan (aka Les the DJ) and John Kim (aka Fish House Funk)


  • Care fair on the plaza featuring local businesses and artists
  • Mindfulness and empowerment workshops led by Soar Over Hate
  • Zen doodling and journaling sessions led by Made With Love DC
  • Moderated conversation centered around Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) identity led by Shared_Studios
  • Dialogue and book signing with AAPI authors including Soo Jin Lee and Linda Yoon (“Where I Belong”) and Susan Lieu (“The Manicurist’s Daughter”)  

Arts and Crafts

  • Relaxing crafts, including a paper-flower bouquet workshop with Emily Paluska of Revery Paper Flora
  • AAPI reading list created by Yu and Me Books in New York City
  • Festival playlist created by Year of the Tiger Records
  • Curator-led tours and spotlight talks

Food and Drink

  • Friday evening low-alcohol-by-volume/zero-proof happy hour
  • Food vendors throughout the weekend including Rasa, Shababi Chicken, Yume Asian Fusion and TOIMOI Bakery


Bank of America is the Founding Sponsor of the National Museum of Asian Art’s “IlluminAsia” Arts and Culture Festival.

About the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art is committed to preserving, exhibiting, researching and interpreting art in ways that deepen our collective understanding of Asia, the United States and the world. Home to more than 46,000 objects, the museum stewards one of North America’s largest and most comprehensive collections of Asian art, with works dating from antiquity to the present from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Islamic world. Its rich holdings bring the arts of Asia into direct dialogue with an important collection of 19th- and early 20th-century art from the United States, providing an essential platform for creative collaboration and cultural exchange between the U.S., Asia and the Middle East.  

Beginning with a 1906 gift that paved the way for the museum’s opening in 1923, the National Museum of Asian Art is a leading resource for visitors, students and scholars in the United States and internationally. Its galleries, laboratories, archives and library are located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and are part of the world’s largest museum complex, which typically reports more than 27 million visits each year. The museum is free and open to the public 364 days a year (closed Dec. 25), making its exhibitions, programs, learning opportunities and digital initiatives accessible to global audiences.  

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Jennifer Mitchell


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