Smithsonian Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Month-Long Festival Highlights Contributions from the Community and Educates Visitors about Its Heritage
May 2, 2013
News Release

The Smithsonian celebrates the 34th Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May with kid-friendly activities, performances, films and workshops. All events are free unless otherwise indicated. Reservations are strongly recommended for select programs.

Feature Event

Asian Pacific Heritage Month will kick off with a two-day event Saturday, May 4, at the National Museum of American History from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 5, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Inspired by two exhibitions, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” and “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary,” these kid-friendly events include interactive performances, hands-on activities, presentations by local authors, conversations with a curator, gallery tours and a scavenger hunt. Admission is free. No reservations are required.

For Children

Children can listen to the story of Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress from the early days of Hollywood, and then create a simple Chinese lantern in “Portrait Story Days: Anna May Wong.” The program takes place Sunday, May 19, from 2–5 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery’s Education Center on the first floor.

Young visitors can learn about Hawaiian culture at “Celebrate Hawai’i,” a weekend-long festival Saturday, May 25, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 26, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the National Museum of the American Indian. This year, the museum’s annual festival of Hawaiian culture celebrates the seafarers who discovered the islands. The weekend includes hula demonstrations, storytelling and Hawaiian foods.


Actor Stan Kang will portray Chinese American cinematographer James Wong Howe in Cultures in Motion: James Wong Howe Himself, a one-man theater production Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m. The performance will take place in the National Portrait Gallery’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. The event is free but reservations are strongly recommended. Call 202-633-8520 for reservations.

As part of the “Celebrate Hawai’i” festival, Hawaiian singer and songwriter Amy Hanaiali`i Gilliom will perform on the Welcome Plaza at the National Museum of the American Indian Saturday, May 25, at 5 p.m.


The National Museum of Natural History’s Johnson IMAX Theater will feature The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3-D (2010, 24 minutes), a film that follows world-champion surfer Kelly Slater and Tahitian surfer Raimana Van Bastolaer as they search for the ultimate wave in Teahupo’o, Tahiti. The film also tells of the wave-riding history of the islanders and the science behind the waves. The film will run daily Tuesday, April 30 through Tuesday, May 28, at 11:50 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.

Off the Mall, two short films combine to tell the legends of Hawai’i. Pele Searches for a Home (2011, 25 minutes) tells the story of the primal force behind volcanoes. In Why Māui Snared the Sun (2011, 20 minutes), Kalā, the sun, races across the sky, leaving the land and its people with short days and long, dark nights. To set things right, Māui, son of a goddess, travels to the highest summit to confront the sun. These films are recommended for all ages and will take place at the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. The films will run daily Tuesday, April 30, through Tuesday, May 28, at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Additional viewings will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.


Visitors will learn and create while participating in The Art of Japanese “Pouch-Books,” a workshop held Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m. on the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s Sublevel 2. Participants will examine the artistry of the vast array of books on view in “Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books,” on view until Aug. 11. They will then make their own “pouch-books,” a common format for novels, romances and humorous works during the Edo period. Japanese refreshments will be offered. No experience necessary. The materials fee is $15. Registration is required. Visit for details and registration.


In conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” will open at the National Museum of American History Saturday, May 4. This “banner display” examines some of the ways that Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and have been shaped by the course of American history. It is sponsored by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

On view through Aug. 11, “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” offers an unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Nam June Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a major international artist as well as material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, which was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum from the artist’s estate in 2009. The archive, along with several significant works by Paik on permanent public view, has established the museum as the international center for the study of Paik’s achievements.

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