18 Calendar

September 1, 2019
Contact: Wendy Malloy
Museum of History & Industry PR
206 324 1126 Ext. 150

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

September 1, 2019


Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

November 2, 2019 – January 26, 2020

Seattle, WA – Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, opening November 2 at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) explores the rich heritage and diverse contributions of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the United States. 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.

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.

“This exhibit is just a snapshot of the deep roots and many contributions that the Indian American community has made in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dr Bhatt. “We hope that Beyond Bollywood will encourage visitors to learn more about the rich and layered history of this community, particularly about its struggles and successes.”

Even though the coastal cities of the Pacific Northwest were among the earliest ports of entry, the region is often underrepresented in histories of Indian American immigration. From Bellingham’s farming communities to the growing cities of the Eastside, to the heart of downtown Seattle and south to Kent, the Pacific Northwest has been a microcosm of both the challenges faced by Indians as they entered American life, as well as a space of integration and acceptance.

Structured in a combination of thematic sections, the first section of the exhibit explores the diversity of this community. India and Indian Americans are as diverse as America itself — where ancient history and rituals, global consumer culture, and a wide range of socio-economic spectrums meet in dynamic and surprising constellations.

The exhibit’s second thematic section explores working lives including images and artifacts illustrating an array of contemporary and historic industries to which Indian Americans contribute—from Pacific Northwest-focused industries like agriculture and tech, to nationally-relevant areas like hotels, science and biomedical fields.

The third section focuses on arts and culture. India is no stranger to America, especially when it comes to popular culture. And although Bollywood now has center stage, it is just one vision of India in the American imagination.

This section also examines the amount and tenure of arts and culture contributions from Pacific Northwest Indian Americans. Although some organizations have existed in the region for several decades, new ones with a focus on the Indian diaspora or second (or third) generations are growing as the community expands.

The final thematic section of the exhibit explores stories of people within the Indian American community claiming space for themselves, and the tensions and struggles they face. Today, many Indian Americans are an integral part of the political landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Breaking away from ethnic and gender stereotypes, Washington State has seen a landmark number of Indian American women elected to city councils, state legislature, and to the U.S. Congress. Many of these representatives carry forth a message of equality and social justice.

Generous support for Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation in Seattle is made possible by 4Culture and The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation. Media sponsors are The Seattle Times, 425 Magazine KCTS 9 | Crosscut. Promotional partner is Visit Seattle.

Up-to-date information about Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation and related programming can be found in the MOHAI online calendar at, on Facebook or by calling (206) 324-1126.

For disability accommodations, please contact two weeks prior to the event.

The museum’s newly renovated gift shop is open daily and during all special Beyond Bollywood-related programs and events.

Upcoming programs and events related to the Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation exhibit details are subject to change, and additional programs and events may be added):

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation Opening Day

Saturday, Nov. 2, 10 am–5 pm

Included with Admission

(Free for members)

Turning the tables on old stereotypes, Beyond Bollywood weaves together stories of individual achievement and the collective struggle of Indian Americans. Join us to celebrate the opening of this powerful exhibit. Details at

Sari Stories

Sunday, Nov 10, 1–3 pm and

Sunday, Dec 15, 1–3 pm

Included with Admission

(Free for members)

What stories are woven into the fabric of a sari? Hear a selection of personal tales told by a group of Indian women about their saris, followed by a sari draping demonstration. Wear your own sari and enter a drawing for a special prize! Presented in collaboration with the Indian Association of Western Washington.

Beyond Bollywood: A Night of Music & Dance

Tuesday, Nov 12, 7–9pm

$10 General Public/$5 MOHAI Members

Celebrate the landmark exhibit Beyond Bollywood: India Americans Shape the Nation with this special evening of music and dance, featuring local performers from Pratidhwani. Guests of all ages are invited to experience these performances of both contemporary and traditional Indian music and dance.

Meet the Filmmakers: Vellai Pookal Screening & Director’s Chat

Tuesday, Dec 3, 6:30–9 pm

$15 General Public/$10 MOHAI Members

Vellai Pookal is a Tamil language movie thriller based on the story of Rhudhran, a retired Indian police officer who travels to the USA to meet his son and fatefully finds himself caught in a web of disappearance, death, and deceit. Follow Rudhran through his experiences in the Pacific Northwest as he unravels the mystery of the kidnappings in his neighborhood. Enjoy complimentary popcorn during the movie and stay for the Director’s Chat with filmmakers including Director and Scriptwriter Vivek Elangovan. Arrive early for a bite to eat at the MOHAI Café before the program.

Dancing Peacock Puppet Theater

Saturday, Dec 21, 2–3 pm

Included with Admission

(Free for members)

The Dancing Peacock Puppet Company, a part of the Love to Share Foundation of America, uses traditional string puppetry to narrate stories from East Indian timeless classics. Wooden string puppets dressed in bright colors perform amidst wonderful props and backgrounds, accentuated by traditional music in between scenes.

Location, Hours, and AdmissionMOHAI is located at 860 Terry Ave. in Seattle. Exhibit gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free on first Thursdays to MOHAI’s regular galleries and open until 8 p.m. Please check the MOHAI website for admission prices. As part of the Museums For All program, low-income families can visit MOHAI for a minimal fee of $2 per person with the presentation of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. For more information, call (206) 324-1126.

Image captions: Ravi Albright (left) and Anupama Bhagwat (right) perform at the Tarana: Festival of South Asian Music, held June 1, 2019 at the Eastside Bahai Center in Bellevue. Photo: Eric Rosko; Ravi Albright (left) and Anupama Bhagwat (right) perform at the Tarana: Festival of South Asian Music, held June 1, 2019 at the Eastside Bahai Center in Bellevue.

About MOHAIMOHAI is dedicated to enriching lives through preserving, sharing, and teaching the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region, and the nation. As the largest private heritage organization in the State of Washington; the museum engages communities through interactive exhibits, online resources, and award-winning public and youth education programs. For more information about MOHAI, please visit, or call (206) 324-1126. Facebook: Twitter: @MOHAI.


SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at

About the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center

The Asian Pacific American Center provides vision, leadership, and support for Asian and Pacific Islander American initiatives for the Smithsonian Institution and works to better reflect their contributions to the American experience, world culture, and the understanding of our planet and the natural world throughout Smithsonian Institution collections, research, exhibitions, outreach, and education programs.

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