Since 1926, China Institute has worked to advance a deeper understanding of China and its rapidly shifting culture through education, culture, art, and business programs. The Institute has brought Chinese culture and history to New York City through gallery exhibitions, talks with Chinese politicians and cultural leaders, business initiatives, and Chinese immersion programs.
This exclusive presentation from China Institute Gallery will introduce participants to the art of China through the lens of the many significant, thematic exhibitions put on since 1966. The event will be led by Yue Ma, Manager of China Institute’s “Discover China Through Art” Art Education Program, and Chihlan Lu, Senior Educator/Docent and Artist.
Founded in 1926 by Chinese reformers Hu Shi and Kuo Pingwen, alongside American educators John Dewey and Paul Monroe, China Institute is the oldest bicultural, non-profit organization in America that focuses exclusively on China. In 1931, China Institute began offering basic courses on China for public school teachers in New York City. Its language and cultural school is the oldest educational center of its kind in the United States, founded in 1933 and chartered in 1944.
Chih Meng, the Institute’s Associate Director at the time, traveled extensively throughout China in 1936, interviewing 2,400 graduates of American colleges and universities to evaluate how American-trained Chinese students served China’s needs upon their return. These findings, detailed in the documentary “Glimpses of Modern China,” would help reframe the education system for many Chinese-Americans and Chinese international students in the U.S. In 1938, the U.S. Bureau of Intercultural Relations provided scholarship-in-aid for Chinese students in the U.S. to Chih Meng, and one year later the Institute recruited Chinese student volunteers to maintain the Burma Road and fix vehicles carrying supplies to China. The Institute also administered Chinese Ministry of Education scholarships to American GIs for the study of Chinese culture.
In the 1950s, the Institute created a placement service to help qualified Chinese students and professionals find jobs, as well as student hospitality centers in New York and Boston. It established the China House Gallery in 1966, where it hosted gallery exhibitions like Animals and Birds in Chinese Art, Chinese Jade through the Centuries, and Ming Porcelains: A Retrospective. China Institute continued to offer new types of professional training when it launched the Bilingual Vocational Training Program in 1975, preparing Chinese immigrants for the restaurant industry, and its Chinese Student/Scholar Program in 1983. In 1996, Teach China was launched, which provided K-12 educators with opportunities to enhance their knowledge of China, past and present.
More recently, China Institute has worked to improve the quality of Mandarin language and Chinese culture instruction in the U.S. with the creation of the Confucius Institute and STARTALK Summer Language Academy. China Institute relocated to a new 41,000 square foot office space at 40 Rector Street in the Financial District in 2015, and since then it has held many events with notable Chinese politicians, artists, chefs, and educators, both in English and Mandarin. In addition to its school, the Institute also includes a Center for Business that works to create strong business connections between the U.S. and China.
Over the last year, China Institute has offered a virtual gallery featuring exhibitions like Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou; Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd–6th Centuries; and Theater, Life, and the Afterlife: Tomb Décor of the Jin Dynasty from Shanxi. The China Institute Gallery is temporarily closed for maintenance through Fall 2022, but it will reopen with the new exhibition Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In Spring 2023, the gallery will be showcasing the exhibition Flowers on a River: The Art of Chinese Flower and Bird Painting, Masterworks from Tianjin Museum and Changzhou Museum.
Next, check out The Definitive Food Guide to New York’s Many Chinatowns!