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Smithsonian Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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

Feature Event
The Institution will kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Friday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “The Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Family Day” will include Chinese paper folding, Indian Rangoli designs, Japanese doll making, Korean watercolor work and mask making, Philippine weaving and Thai soap and fruit carving. This is the third feature event in the Smithsonian Heritage Month 2009 family-day series. The theme is “Living in Many Worlds,” which explores the dynamic intersection of family, history and cultural identity.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum will present “Dancing Through the Asian American Experience” Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m. in the McEvoy Auditorium. This event is part of the feature event and will highlight dance artist Dana Tai Soon Burgess, who will present the original works “Chino Latino” and “Hyphen,” the latter of which integrates the work of video artist Nam June Paik. He will also perform a work in progress, “Island,” which explores the Asian Pacific American experience at the Angel Island Immigration Station in California. Following the performance, Burgess and his dancers will take part in a discussion with Ken Hakuta, the nephew of Paik.

The National Museum of Natural History will feature “An Evening of Asian Dance” Friday, May 15, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the museum’s Baird Auditorium. This eighth annual event will include performances by the Odissi Indian Dance Troupe and the Mongolian Dance Troupe.

The National Museum of the American Indian will present “Victoria Kneubuhl” Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater. Playwright and novelist Kneubuhl (Native Hawaiian/Samoan) will read from her works, which include “Hawai’i Nei,” an anthology of three plays, and “Murder Casts a Shadow,” a mystery set in Honolulu in the1930s. This lecture is part of the Vine Deloria Jr. Native Writers Series. A book signing will follow the lecture.

On Friday, May 1, the opening day of the exhibition “Jean Shin: Common Threads” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, artist Shin will discuss her groundbreaking work in which she converts everyday objects into site-specific assemblages. This lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the McEvoy Auditorium.

For Children
The Freer Gallery of Art and Discovery Theater will present “Birth of the Monkey King” Thursday, May 7, and Friday, May 8, at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. in the Meyer Auditorium. In a shadow theater adaptation of the Chinese classic “Journey to the West,” the fantastic simian troublemaker Sun Wu Kung (aka, Handsome Monkey King) gathers his superpowers and shakes the foundations of heaven. This program is recommended for children ages 5 through 12. Tickets are required: $4 for Resident Associate members; general admission is $5 for children and $6 for adults. For reservations, call (202) 633-3030.

The whole family is invited to the National Postal Museum for an afternoon of activities related to stamps commemorating the Lunar New Year and Hawaiian statehood Saturday, May 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Throughout the month of May, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery will offer daily walk-in tours weekdays at noon and Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. The one-hour tour will feature Kee-Ho Yuen’s “Bag-gage # 1 ‘Been Measured, Being Measured, Will Be Measured.’” Meet at the Information Desk.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum will present the exhibition “Jean Shin: Common Threads,” from May 1 through July 26. Shin is nationally recognized for her transformative installations that imbue the castoffs of consumer society with new life. The exhibition features six large-scale installations and two additional works created since 2000, including a new project, “Everyday Monuments,” an installation of several hundred trophies gathered from Washington, D.C.-area residents, which will debut in the exhibition.

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