Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Announces Programming for Centennial Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Festival
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art announces that Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor for its 2023 centennial celebrations and, from 2023 through 2027, for annual celebrations during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
From May 1 to May 14, America’s first national museum of art will mark its centennial by hosting the inaugural festival in this five-year initiative. Programming includes headline performers—internationally acclaimed singer-songwriters Eric Nam and Raveena—plus panel discussions, interactive experiences, culinary adventures, art-making projects and programming from the Middle East, Asia and America’s Asian American communities. The museum’s partnership with Bank of America will greatly expand the museum’s public programming, both within its galleries and on the National Mall, ensuring that Asian arts and culture reach the broadest possible audiences.
“I want to thank Bank of America for their generous support of our centennial and especially this festival,” said Chase F. Robinson, Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Asian Art. “Each day, our museum welcomes visitors to learn about the arts and cultures of Asia free of charge. This sponsorship allows us to create ambitious and memorable experiences during this major celebration, and to engage new audiences with the creativity and diversity of Asian cultures.”
“At Bank of America, we believe that investments in the arts help build communities and in turn have a positive impact on the lives of our clients and employees,” said Brian Siegel, Global Arts, Culture & Heritage Executive at Bank of America. “By sponsoring exhibitions and programs, we help drive engagement and visitors for our museum partners. These celebrations will bring people from all walks of life together in our nation’s capital to celebrate the Middle East, Asian and Asian American artists whose stories and unique perspectives enrich our lives.”
Confirmed programming for the May 2023 festival includes (see detailed schedule here):
- Headline performance by K-pop sensation Eric Nam and breakout star Raveena
- The Washington premiere of acclaimed composer Huang Ruo’s oratorio Angel Island, inspired by poetry written by Chinese immigrants on the walls of the Angel Island detention center in San Francisco, in partnership with Washington Performing Arts
- Performance by Grammy Award-winning Korean American contemporary classical violinist Jennifer Koh in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building
- An immersive performance with the genre-bending classical ensemble Chromic Duo
- Journey-inspired performance by Syrian American rapper and poet Omar Offendum and Palestinian American multi-instrumentalist Ronnie Malley
- Collaborative performance by Indian violinist Nistha Raj and Grammy-nominated progressive hip-hop artist Christylez Bacon
- Gallery-wide dance performance by Vijay Palaparty and Nalini Prakash from Spilling Ink entitled Divine Vessels: Exploring Space through Indian Classical Dance & Music
- Dance party on the Freer Plaza featuring DJ 2-Tone, co-founder of Shaolin Jazz
- Dance classes featuring traditional and modern Asian dance traditions
- 1920s Japanese silent film A Page of Madness, with live musical accompaniment by the immersive techno band Coupler
- Two classic Chinese silent films with live accompaniment featuring reimagined scores by Min Xiao-Fen and River Guerguerian
- Screening of hit documentary 38 at the Garden with post-film panel discussion with director Frank Chi and producers Travon Free and Samir Hernandez
- Kimchi-making class with Washington, D.C.-based chef Patrice Cunningham, founder of Tae-Gu Kimchi
- Indonesian cooking demo and book signing with award-winning author and chef Petty Pandean-Elliott
- Weekday lunch pop-ups on the Freer Plaza featuring local, Asian Pacific American-owned food businesses
- A one-day market, curated by THE REDEYE, featuring food vendors, artists, makers and other small businesses to pay homage to the foods and cultures of the Asian diaspora
- Art market on the Freer Plaza featuring local Asian Pacific American makers and artists, curated by Washington, D.C., art collective SAMASAMA
- Installation of a Shared Studios Portal using immersive audio and video technology to bring together communities around the world for transformative conversations as if in the same room
- Angela Killoren, CEO of the entertainment and mass media company CJ ENM America, in conversation with Jerry Won, host of the Dear Asian Americans podcast, on the meteoric rise of Korean pop culture, including music, film, TV shows and food, in the U.S., in partnership with the Council of Korean Americans
- Asian Pacific American fashion panel featuring innovative designers, including Bach Mai as well as Siying Qu of PRIVATE POLICY, with more to be announced
- Discussion with local Asian Pacific American digital creators including Linh Truong and Amjaad Al-Hussain
- Korean artisan residency in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
- Curator talks (daily)
- Docent-led tours of the galleries (daily)
Over a two-week residency at the National Museum of Asian Art, interdisciplinary artist and Maryland Institute College of Art Master of Fine Arts graduate Sagar Kamath plans to create bamboo and banana leaf sculptures in both the museum and the Moongate garden that will react to the environment as they transform, wilt and dry. He will lead workshops for visitors to draw or write on additional leaves to represent the intersections of identity and the passage of time as they add their stories to the artwork.
Artist-in-residence and community member programs received federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Support for Korean artists and programming during the festival has been provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea.
More details on the National Museum of Asian Art’s centennial programming throughout 2023 will be announced in the coming months. Follow asia.si.edu/centennial, #TheNext100 and @NatAsianArt for updates.
Additional 2023 Programming
A series of 2023 “Journeys” public programs throughout the year experiment with new forms of storytelling and create opportunities for visitors and staff to share their own experiences. Throughout the year, a dedicated film series allows audiences to travel through the eyes of filmmakers. Other 2023 partners include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, contemporary artists such as Ravi Agarwal, Musicians from Marlboro and the Shanghai Quartet and numerous Asian embassies and cultural centers. Annual celebrations like Nowruz, Diwali, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Lunar New Year create journeys through cultural practices. There will also be a new annual celebration of Korean art and culture that will coincide with the mid-autumn festival of Chuseok.
As part of the centennial celebrations, the museum is also presenting a landmark number of scholarly programs, with major symposia on every discipline in the museum. Finally, a transformative web redesign creates opportunities for digital storytelling, interactive features and lecture series available to anyone, anywhere to join the centennial “Journeys.”
The centennial is anchored by three lead exhibitions—each of which furthers the museum’s vision for its next century—employing cutting-edge digital and immersive features and forging global partnerships:
“A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur” (Nov. 19–May 14): Winner of a Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibitions Award: The 100th anniversary lineup began in November with the opening of "A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur,” presented in collaboration with The City Palace Museum in Rajasthan, India. With dazzling paintings on paper and cloth—many on public view for the first time—the exhibition reveals the environmental, political and emotional contexts in which a new genre of painting emerged in Udaipur. An ambient soundscape by the renowned experimental filmmaker Amit Dutta underscores the sensorial elements in the paintings, which center on local landscapes, lake systems and palaces.
“Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings” (Feb. 25–April 28, 2024): “Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings” is the first major exhibition in the United States dedicated to Anyang, the capital of ancient China’s Shang dynasty. “Anyang” brings together more than 200 objects from the museum’s collection to examine the Shang state and the artistic achievements of those who lived in its capital over 3,000 years ago. The presentation includes digital activations developed in partnership with the award-winning production studio UNIT9 that helps visitors understand the city and the importance of its rediscovery.
“Ay-Ō’s Happy Rainbow Hell” (March 25–Sept. 10): Known as the “Rainbow Artist,” Ay-Ō is internationally regarded for his experiential works and prismatic silkscreen prints that make prominent use of a bright rainbow aesthetic. “Ay-Ō’s Happy Rainbow Hell” is the first museum exhibition dedicated to the artist’s work in the United States. It is accompanied by the first English-language publication on the artist. The exhibition of artworks is augmented by an interactive gesture wall and digital haptic boxes, allowing audiences to experience Ay-Ō’s world.
Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art’s Centennial.
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 and the world. Home to more than 45,000 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 American works, providing an essential platform for creative collaboration and cultural exchange between the United States, 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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Gill Harris, Sutton New York
David Yu, Sutton Hong Kong