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Decorated Indian tabla player Pandit Shankar Ghosh and noted Indian classical vocalist Shrimati Sanjukta Ghosh with Vikram (Boomba) Ghosh at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunita, Calif., ca. 1970. Photo courtesy of the Ali Akbar Khan Foundation.

Through January 26, 2020

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

From the builders of some of America’s earliest railroads and farms, to civil rights pioneers, to digital technology entrepreneurs, Indian Americans have long been an inextricable part of American life.

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation explores that rich heritage and the diverse contributions of Indian immigrants and their descendants in the United States and the Pacific Northwest.

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Making its Northwest premier at MOHAI, Beyond Bollywood uses photography, artifacts, and audio stories to tell a uniquely American story. The exhibition was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and is presented in Seattle by MOHAI.

Dr. Amy Bhatt, co-author of Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest, curated MOHAI’s locally focused addition with insight provided by the museum’s Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation Community Advisory Committee. The exhibit’s presentation at MOHAI also includes a look into the Northwest’s Indian American community, highlighting key moments in our region’s history and compelling stories of Northwest Indian American pioneers.

Generous support for Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation at MOHAI is provided by Chuck Nordhoff and Maribeth O’Connor, 4Culture and The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation.

Indian Americans Shape The Nation

Indian Americans have been part of this region for over a century, though their history is often underrepresented. Bellingham’s farming communities in the north, the growing cities of the Eastside, Kent in the south—all have stories of struggles and success, exclusion and acceptance.

Today, one out of every 100 Americans traces his or her roots to India. From Seattle and Silicon Valley to Smalltown, U.S.A., the lives and stories of America’s 3.3 million Indian Americans are woven into the larger story of this nation—and have shaped what it is today.

Explore the Indian American community’s vital contributions to American life and history in Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation:

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 2000.107.021.16.02

Anu, Harish, and Manu Bharti pose outside their home in North Seattle in 1990.

The Indian American community has grown in the Puget Sound region for the last 120 years. Cultures from across the Indian subcontinent are reflected in this relatively small area, as waves of migration have brought people of different religions, languages, classes, and castes.

Courtesy Hemendra and Hansa Momaya

Wearing garlands presented by family members, Hemendra Momaya prepares to depart for the United States in 1965.

Washington state was one of the first points of entry to the US for Indian immigrants via Canada or by boat. Most Indian immigrants came with just one trunk or suitcase containing some clothing and a few items to remind them of home. Many left their families behind to make the 10,000-mile journey, with only hope for new and better opportunities in an unknown place.

Courtesy Hemendra and Hansa Momaya

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.43973.2

The backyard wedding of UW graduate students Naresh Vasishth and Usha Puri on June 29, 1959.

The Indian American community here is dynamic. Puget Sound is home to first-, second-, and third-generation Indian Americans, and new immigrants arrive every day. They have integrated their experiences into the daily fabric of American society and expanded American culture through the introduction of new ideas.

This vital, diverse community is part of this region’s past, present, and future.

Exhibit Community Advisory Committee

Many thanks to all the individuals who advised and participated in the development of the Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation exhibit.

  • Dhruv Agarwal, True Brands
  • Akthar Badshah, Catalytic Innovators Group
  • Dr. Amy Bhatt, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Debadutta Dash, Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee
  • Maureen Frisch, MOHAI Board of Trustees
  • Ramesh Gangolli, University of Washington
  • Rituja Indapure, Costco
  • Nalini Iyer, Seattle University
  • Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal
  • Viren Kamdar, Cornerstone Advisors, Inc.
  • Alok Mathur, Boeing (retired) and Indo-American Friendship Forum (IAFF)
  • Yazmin Mehdi, Office of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal
  • Rita Meher, Tasveer
  • Rupal Mehta, Coldwell Banker Bain
  • Chuck Nordhoff, former MOHAI Board of Trustees
  • Chad Richardson, MOHAI Board of Trustees
  • Preeti Shridhar, City of Renton

Exhibit Supporters at MOHAI

Generous support provided by
Chuck Nordhoff and Maribeth O’Connor
MOHAI Exhibits Fund
Promotional sponsor
Additional generous support was provided by Lead Donors to the MOHAI Exhibits Fund
Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust
The Norcliffe Foundation
Pepper Family Fund
True-Brown Foundation
Peggy and George Corley
Maureen Frisch
Margaret Heldring
Mary Frances Hill
Linda and Ted Johnson
John and Mary Ann Mangels
Tom McQuaid
Glen and Alison Milliman
Gary and Susan Neumann
Chuck Nordhoff
Mike Repass
Robert Roblee and Ron Johnson

VISIT TODAY AND SEE HOCKEY HISTORY

For one day only, the Hockey Hall of Fame will be at MOHAI showcasing historic items from the Seattle Metropolitans, 1917 Stanley Cup Champions. All hockey fans are welcome to visit the museum this Free First Thursday from 10 am—5 pm.

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