Monkeys Grasp for the Moon by Xu Bing
Calling visitors of all ages: Ring in the Year of the Monkey at our second annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 6, 11 am–4 pm. Join us to explore the museum, take family-friendly tours of the suspended sculpture Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, and enjoy dance performances by the Madison Chinese Dance Academy. Plus: ribbon dancing, mask making, calligraphy, photo booth fun, and Lunar New Year resolutions!
About the Artwork
Chinese artist Xu Bing created Monkeys Grasp for the Moon specifically for the Freer|Sackler. Each of the sculpture’s twenty-one pieces represents the word “monkey” in one of a dozen different languages and writing systems, including Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Braille. The work is based on a Chinese folktale in which a group of monkeys attempt to capture the moon. Linking arms and tails, they form a chain reaching down from a tree branch to the moon—only to discover that it is just a shimmering reflection in a pool of water.
Listen to Xu Bing chat about the work during its initial installation at the Freer|Sackler (click on “Interview with the Artist”).
Sheep and Goat; Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322); China, Yuan dynasty, ca. 1300; ink on paper; Purchase, F1931.4
Greetings from the ImaginAsia family program!
To ring in the Year of the Sheep, we are hosting our first annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 21, from 11 am to 4 pm. Throughout the day, visitors of all ages can learn, play, and indulge in culinary delights to mark the new year in China, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and many other countries.
Visitors can explore the Freer|Sackler’s rich collections through educator-led tours, sample and learn how to make Lunar New Year-themed recipes with author Pat Tanumihardja, and discover the history and traditions of the holiday through book readings hosted by the DC Public Library. Other activities include creating festive good-luck figures with handmade paper and pop-up greeting cards with Sushmita Mazumdar, a local book artist.
This event, held in the midst of the fifteen-day holiday, is co-organized by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Can’t wait for Saturday? Send a Lunar New Year e-card now!
Case study: Japanese books from the Gerhard Pulverer collection
On Saturday, April 6, Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books opens in the Sackler. In honor of the exhibition, we’re hosting a weekend celebrating Japanese arts and design. Check our calendar to learn more about the events that include tours, talks, hands-on activities, and music.
Digging for buried treasure during Eid al Arabia.
In honor of its new exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sackler Gallery recently hosted Eid al Arabia: A Cultural Celebration. The morning began with a symposium on archaeological discoveries in the Arabian Peninsula, followed by a day of activities for families. These included sessions on Arabic calligraphy; storytelling by Surabhi Shah; concerts of traditional Saudi music; and an archaeology program for budding explorers. All told, nearly 3,000 people traveled the roads of Arabia, digging a little deeper into the art, history, and culture of the ancient kingdom.
Taking a closer look at the exhibition Roads of Arabia during the family day celebration.
Dancing at the Freer|Sackler during the Inspired by India family celebration. (All photos by Neil Greentree.)
On Saturday, more than 7,000 people were inspired by India at our family celebration in honor of the exhibition Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran. Bollywood dancers shared the afternoon with classical Kathak dancers to create a synergy of color, light, and movement. Were you there?
What’s your favorite type of dance: traditional or contemporary?
Check out other Inspired by India events on Bento.
Learning to dance Bollywood style.
Traditional kathak dance on stage at the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium.
From Bollywood to bindi, our Inspired by India family celebration had something for everyone. The day’s events are almost over, but Bollywood film Mugal-e-Azam starts at 5:30.
Kathak dancer Prachi Dalal.
Prachi Dalal performs in a program of traditional kathak dance. These include stories from the temple traditions of storytelling, courtly customs, and royal challenges as well as songs of mysticism, devotion, passion, and play (by leoncio). The next (and final) performance begins at 3pm in the Meyer Auditorium.
In honor of Inspired by India and Worlds within Worlds, Nirupama Rao, the Ambassador of India to the United States, leads a traditional lamplighting ceremony as an auspicious start to this family festival.”India is not easy to embrace in a moment,” she told the overflowing crowds, “You need a lifetime.” Today, I’m sure, is a good place to start…
Rangoli, the art of painted prayers.
Led by Gayatri Mohan-Iyengar, local Indian women demonstrate the rich tradition of creating complex images on the ground with rice powder. In India, women paint simpler designs on their doorstep each morning and create more complex varieties at weddings and other celebrations.
As David Nash, educator at Freer|Sackler explained to me, “It’s a meditative art, often done at dawn to welcome the new day. The birds and ants then eat the rice powder so that it gradually all but disappears, symbolizing the power of impermanence.”
Working closely on rangoli in the Freer courtyard.
The event goes on until 3pm in the Freer courtyard and is part of Inspired by India: A Family Celebration, in honor of the new exhibition Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran.
Learning how to dance Bollywood style.
Bollywood dancing literally kicked off our Inspired by India Family Festival. Ever want to dance like a Bollywood star? You’ll get another chance at 4pm when Nepalese performer Bhim Dahal teaches dance sequences seen in musical films from Mumbai, the Hollywood of India. Lights…Camera…Bollywood!