Smithsonian Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

April 25, 2012
News Release

The Smithsonian celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May with a series of lectures, performances and films at museums around the Institution. All programs are free unless otherwise indicated.

Feature Event

The Institution will kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at the National Portrait Gallery Sunday, May 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with its “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Family Day.” The day includes music, dance, spoken-word performances, arts-and-crafts activities, video interviews by the Hirshhorn’s Artlab+ teen videographers and much more. This event is sponsored in part by the Reinsch Family Education Endowment.


The Freer Gallery of Art will show Valley of Saints (2012, 82 minutes, Kashmiri with English subtitles) Sunday, May 13, at 2 p.m. This film tells the story of Gulzar, a frustrated tourist boat operator on Kashmir’s Dal Lake who dreams of escaping with his best friend, Afzal. When he is hired as a guide for a beautiful American scientist studying the lake’s ever-worsening pollution, their blossoming romance disrupts his friendship with Afzal and threatens to derail his dreams. This film is a Sundance Film Festival award-winner, and its director, Musa Syeed, will appear at the screening.

The National Portrait Gallery will show Shanghai Express (1932, 80 minutes) Saturday, May 19, at 1 p.m. It features Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong in a tale of romance and intrigue set during the Chinese Civil War. The museum will also show Hud (1963, 112 minutes) Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. This film tells the story of a Texas ranching family. It stars Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal, and features James Wong Howe’s beautiful black-and-white cinematography. Portraits of Wong and Howe are displayed in the museum’s exhibition “Twentieth-Century Americans.”


The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will present “Visual Culture and Social Upheaval: Imaging Change in Late Edo Period Japan” Saturday, May 5, at 2 p.m. Explore the intersection of pop culture and spiritual concerns in late Edo society. Leading scholars in the field will discuss artist Kano Kazunobu’s paintings of Buddha’s legendary disciples and Katsushika Hokusai’s famous print series of Mount Fuji. The panel includes James C. Dobbins, Fairchild Professor of Religion at Oberlin College; Patricia Graham, independent art historian; Constantine N. Vaporis, professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Freer and Sackler galleries’ curators James Ulak and Ann Yonemura.

For Children

To celebrate Kodomono Hi, Japanese Children’s Day, master artist Shizumi Shigeto Manale introduces children to the arts and culture of Japan. Visitors may watch a giant origami crane take shape before their eyes, learn to count in Japanese and take part in arts-and-crafts activities. “Kodomono ME!” will be presented at the S. Dillon Ripley Center Saturday, May 5, at 12 p.m. This program is recommended for children ages 4 through 9. Tickets are required: adults, $12; children $10; Resident Associate members, $5; children under 2 years old, $3. Call (202) 633-8700 or visit

The electric young performers of Dhoonya Dance will explore the roots of today’s Bollywood bhangra craze in the beautiful and fierce movement of Indian classical dance. “Bhangra Blast” will take place at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium Wednesday, May 9, at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. This program is recommended for all ages. Tickets are required: adults, $8; children, $6; Resident Associate members, $5; children under 2 years old, $3. Call (202) 633-8700 or visit

The National Museum of the American Indian will present “Celebrate Hawai’i Festival: Healing and Aloha” Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum welcomes Hawaiian artists, performers and practitioners of traditional Hawaiian healing and culture. Visitors can learn about living a life of “aloha” by watching hula, cooking demonstrations, films and presentations by Hawaiian guests.

Demonstrations and Performances

Contemporary artist Keiji Shinohara will demonstrate Japanese woodblock printmaking at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m. He will reveal how he has been inspired by Hokusai’s “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” now on view. He is joined by Freer and Sackler galleries’ curator Ann Yonemura.

Tom “Pohaku” Stone, artist in residence, will demonstrate traditional Hawaiian carving at the National Museum of the American Indian, Sunday, May 20, through Friday, May 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Stone, a Native Hawaiian craftsman and teacher, will carve a traditional Hawaiian surfboard (papahe’enalu) and assemble a traditional Hawaiian sled (papahōlua). Visitors can join him as he shares his “aloha” and knowledge of ancient Hawaiian sports.

The Freer Gallery of Art will present the Shanghai Quartet Thursday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. With pianist Peter Serkin, the quartet performs Washington premiere of Bright Sheng’s Dance Capriccio, along with works by Mozart and Dvorak. Free tickets are required; they are available through Ticketmaster at (202) 397-7328 or


The National Museum of American History’s exhibition “Sweet & Sour” is on display on the museum’s first floor. This display traces the evolution of Chinese food in the U.S., offering insight into the long history of Chinese immigration. The exhibition is ongoing; the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter” is on display on the museum’s first floor. This exhibition displays the diversity of contemporary Asian American identity through the groundbreaking work of seven visual artists. Join the artist, Shizu Saldamando and view the work in the exhibition “Gallery360” Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. The exhibition is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through Oct. 14.

All programs are subject to change. For more information about the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programs, visit: or email For general Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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