The City of Austin’s Asian American Resource Center, in partnership with South Asian Austin Moms — an organization raising awareness about the South Asian community in Austin — is proud to host this first-of-its-kind exhibition from Jan. 29 to Apr. 8.
From the builders of America’s earliest railroads and farms, to Civil Rights pioneers and digital technology entrepreneurs, Indian Americans have long been an inextricable part of American life. The Smithsonian traveling exhibition “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation” details the history of Indian Americans and their contributions to the U.S. from the 1700s to the present.
Created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, “Beyond Bollywood” features Indian Americans’ migration experiences, working lives, political struggles and cultural and religious contributions. The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Museums and Cultural Programs Division is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
Through a vibrant collection of photographs, artifacts, art and interactive learning stations, visitors will experience the Indian American story and explore the many dynamic roles Indian Americans have played in shaping America. Complementing the exhibit, SAAM will host eight docent and educational programming days. Activities include group gallery tours, specialized programming that cover topics on Indian Immigration history, Indian Classical Dance, and Indian Jewelry, and special events such as an Indian regional fashion show, author readings, lectures, and a film screening.
“The vibrant life, culture and history of immigrants from India and Indian Americans is the story of America,” said Konrad Ng, former director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. “This wonderful exhibition deepens our understanding of the American experience as lived by the Asian Pacific American communities who have journeyed from being exotic outsiders to being the faces and voices of the future. We are excited to present an exhibition that we hope will excite and inspire generations.”
“Beyond Bollywood” is also accompanied by education curriculum and an opportunity for individuals to share their family stories through a digital portal.
Approximately 17 million people in the U.S. are of Asian Pacific Islander descent, and the number is expected to climb to 41 million by 2050. One in every 100 Americans has a family connection to India. In Austin, the Asian Pacific Islander community continues to be the fastest growing demographic, making up a total of eight percent of the current population. When this data is disaggregated by ethnicity, Indian Americans are the largest Asian-ethnic group in the city, comprising 36.4 percent of Austin’s Asian Pacific Islander population.
The exhibition has been funded in large part by donations from philanthropists and corporations from across the country. Lead gifts came from Dr. and Mrs. Kanu Shah and Sadhana and Rick Downs, with additional major gift support from TV Asia, the Epker-Sinha Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Umang and Ruth Gupta, Gautam and Varsha Chandra, Washington Gas, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Goldman Sachs, Robert N. Johnson, Sunita and Dan Leeds, Haresh and Alpa Bhungalia, Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee, Girish and Indu Jindia, Rohit and Joy Kirpalani, Anil and Sonjui Lal Kumar, Dr. Mahinder and Sharad Tak, Southwest Airlines and the Network of Indian Professionals Foundation.
The AARC is located at 8401 Cameron Road. For more information about this exhibition and programming, visit the AARC’s website at austintexas.gov/aarc.