A Look at the National Museum of Asian Art’s Centennial Celebration

Events on tap include K-Pop performances, interactive experiences, culinary adventures and curator-led gallery tours.

Grey stone museum with wide stone steps and red banners.
The exterior facade of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art has kicked off its 100th year anniversary celebrations with a series of events honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As part of the two-week Centennial Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Festival, the museum is hosting exhibitions, outdoor events, film screenings, panel discussions, performances and more.

“Our vision is to transform the National Museum of Asian Art into a space where a wide range of visitors can come together to celebrate, learn about and interact with Asian art and cultures, including their intersection with America,” said Chase Robinson, the museum’s director, in a statement. “In our second century, we’re becoming a space to convene, learn, reflect and forge connections through art.”

Young woman with dark hair in ponytail sings into microphone while holding guitar
Raveena performing at Coachella in April 2022. Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella.

The festival’s music lineup will be headlined by K-Pop star Eric Nam and Indian American musician Raveena Aurora. “Raised in the U.S. and inspired by their respective backgrounds, these artists embrace Korean and Indian influences as means of experimentation and self-expression and truly embody the Asian American experience,” said Robinson.

The museum will also mark its centennial with three exhibits dedicated to works from the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, India; art from Anyang, the capital of ancient China’s Shang dynasty; and the works of Japanese contemporary artist Ay-O. New and refreshed installations include the introductory hall, which features a rotating display of artwork, and James McNeill Whistler’s newly conserved Peacock Room.

Dark green wall surrounds intricate gold panel
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (1876-1877). James McNeill Whistler/Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C: Gift of Charles Lang Freer.

Visitors can take classes in traditional Asian dance and K-pop choreography or try their hands at kimchi making and Indonesian cooking before taking a curator-led tour of the galleries or sitting for panel discussions with AAPI designers and digital creators. The centenary programming also includes Asian artisan markets and lunch pop-ups featuring AAPI-owned business.

The National Museum of Asian Art only recently rebranded

The Freer Gallery opened in 1923 after industrialist Charles Freer donated 9,500 Asian and American artworks, making it the first national museum of art in the U.S. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery opened 64 years later, with an inaugural collection of 1,000 works from Sackler, including Chinese jades and bronzes. In 2019, the two Smithsonian institutions were unified and rebranded as the National Museum of Asian Art.

Since its renaming, the museum has endowed curatorial positions in Chinese and Korean artwork and signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea to enhance cultural cooperation between the nation and the Smithsonian Institute.

A Look at the National Museum of Asian Art’s Centennial Celebration