Newswise — The Smithsonian invites the public to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month throughout May with a series of performances, lectures, exhibitions, family activities and tours at various museums around the Smithsonian. All programs are free unless otherwise indicated. For a full calendar of events, visit

Feature Event

The National Museum of the American Indian will present a celebration of Hawaiian traditions Saturday and Sunday, May 20–21, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum. Visitors to this all-day, museum-wide event can learn about Hawaii’s unique land-management system, enjoy the songs that went with each area and stories that have been passed down through the generations. Samuel M. `Ohukani`ōhi`a Con III, senior scientist and cultural advisor at the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, will share traditional plant knowledge, and cultural practitioner Joe McGinn will show Hawaiian farming techniques and describes the importance of water management.


The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will present “Curators Julie Nelson Davis and James Ulak on “Inventing Utamaro” Saturday, May 6, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The talk will help visitors gain insight into the work of artist Kiagawa Utamaro with the curators of the exhibition “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered.”

The museum will also host “Trading in Japonisme: The French Obsession with Japanese Art” Saturday, May 13, at 2 p.m. Visitors can join Davis and Ulak, curators of “Inventing Utamaro,” and Gabe Weisberg, art history professor at the University of Minnesota, to learn about Japanese art’s influence in Europe—France specifically.


“The Art of Afghan Music” will be presented by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Saturday, May 20, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Visitors can enjoy music from Afghanistan as Quaraishi, a specialist in a traditional lute called the rubāb, performed in the “Turquoise Mountain” galleries.

The National Museum of American History will present “Sounds of Faith: Taiko Drumming” Saturday, May 6, at 3 p.m. The Washington, D.C.-based taiko ensemble, Nen Daiko, will perform as part of the “Sounds of Faith” series. Originally used in religious rituals, taiko is an ancient Japanese drumming style now famous for its dynamic performances.


“Open Studio: Japanese Woodblock Printing” will be hosted in the Enid A. Haupt Garden, Saturday, May 6, 12–4 p.m. The studio includes a family-friendly tour of the exhibition “Inventing Utamaro.” Visitors can get their hands inky while exploring traditional printing tools and techniques. All ages welcome if accompanied by adult.


The Anacostia Community Museum will screen Angel of Nanjing Saturday, May 27, at 2 p.m. This critically acclaimed documentary examines why one of the most famous bridges in China is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. A post-screening Q&A is hosted by a museum educator.  

The National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York will screen a documentary Mele’s Murals, Thursday, May 18, at 6 p.m. The documentary centers on two graffiti artists, Estria Miyashiro (Kanaka Maoli), aka Estria, and John Hina (Kanaka Maoli), aka Prime, who are tasked with teaching the art of “writing” to a group of students at Kanu o ka ʻĀina New Century Public Charter School in Hawaii. A discussion with director Tadashi Nakamura follows.  

Family Programs

Young visitors and their families can drop into the National Portrait Gallery for the museum’s Portrait Story Day Series. Visitors can participate in an art activity after listening to a story about a famous Native. The program is held in partnership with D.C. Public Libraries.

Portrait Story Days: Anna May Wong

Saturday, May 6; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, May 7; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Isamu Noguchi

Saturday, May 13; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, May 14; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Maya Lin

Saturday, May 20; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, May 21; 2–5 p.m.

Portrait Story Days: Roger Shimomura

Saturday, May 27; 1–4 p.m.

Sunday, May 28; 2–5 p.m.


“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” is on view at the National Museum of American History. February 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, a document that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed two months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The exhibition will explore the history of the Executive Order 9066 document on loan from the National Archives, original artwork by Roger Shimomura, who spent several years in the Minidoka Camp in Idaho, along with historic images and objects.  

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has several exhibitions on view: “Body of Devotion: The Cosmic Buddha in 3D,” “The Glazed Elephant: Ceramic Traditions in Cambodia,” “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered” and “Perspectives: Michael Joo.”

All Asian Pacific American month programs at the Smithsonian are subject to change. Unless otherwise indicated, Smithsonian Heritage Month programs are free. For more information about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programs, visit or email [email protected]. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call 202-633-1000.