Indian Americans Shape the Nation
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center | National Museum of Natural History

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, is a groundbreaking exhibition showing at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) from February 27, 2014 to August 16, 2015. 

The exhibition explores the heritage, daily experience and numerous, diverse contributions that Indian immigrants and Indian Americans have made to shaping the United States.

In this digital exhibition, you will find some of the key items featured at the NMNH exhibition, as well as some digitally-exclusive pieces.

In the western imagination, India conjures up many things: elephants, saris, and spices; gurus, gods, and goddesses; turbans, temples, and a billion faces drawn from ancient history, modern-day Slumdog Millionaires, and the pulsating energy of Bollywood movies. 

But in America, India’s contributions stretch far beyond these stereotypes.

Our story starts with an Indian sailor who landed on the shores of Massachusetts in 1790, just 14 years after the Declaration of Independence.

It includes workers who built railroads out west throughout the 19th century and families who form the backbone of California’s farms.

The first Asian in Congress.

The creator of Hotmail. Doctors. Cab drivers. Musicians. Athletes.

And a lawyer named Gandhi, whose quest for Indian independence inspired one of America’s greatest social revolutions: the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, one out of every 100 Americans traces his or her roots to India. India’s fingerprints here range from flavorful food and flamboyant fashion to yoga studios, sites of worship, and breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

From 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 it to be what it is today.


This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the following individuals and organizations.


Rick & Sadhana Downs

H.R. Shah

Kanu R. & Daksha K. Shah

TV Asia


Epker-Sinha Foundation


Gautam & Varsha Chandra

Citigroup Foundation

Umang & Ruth Gupta



Asian American Hotel Owners Association

Haresh & Alpa Bhungalia

Amita & Purnendu Chatterjee

The Enfranchisement Foundation

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Girish & Indu Jindia

Robert N. Johnson

Rohit & Joy Kirpalani

Anil & Sonjui Lal Kumar

Sunita & Dan Leeds

Network of Indian Professionals Foundation

Dr. Mahinder & Sharad Tak

Washington Gas


C2 Technologies, Inc.

Sharda & Satish Cherwoo

Chirag Foundation

Curtis Cox & Dolly Oberoi

Dhansukhlal & Anjana Desai

Ronak D. Desai

Dr. Rita & A.J. Gupta

Simi Singh Juneja & Tarun K. Juneja

Pradman & Sunita Kaul

Dr. Navin Mehta

David & Priya Menachery

Victor & Tara Menezes

Dr. Supratik Moulik

Shekar & Charu Narasimhan

Network of South Asian Professionals - DC Chapter


Udayan Shah & Barbara Ziv & their children

Southwest Airlines

ST Paper, LLC

Bala Sundar & Lakshmi Bala


Almex USA, Inc.

Dr. Manohar & Beryl Bartakke

Stephen G. Baxter & Roshna Kapadia

Kiran R. Bhutani, Ph.D. & Ravi Bhutani

Boccasam Family Trust

Sushil & Kamla Chandra

Desai Family Foundation

Dr. Barin & Heide Desai

Drs. Jagdish Dhingra & Meera Mahalingam

Avinash & Vandana Ghanekar

Ashok Y. Gore, Ph.D. & Manisha A. Gore

Ranjay & Anuradha Gulati

India Forum Inc.

Radha Devi Joshi Family Foundation

Dr. Hemant Kanakia & Prof. Sonalde Desai

Banu A. Karimi-Shah & Rahul Shah

Ram Karuppusamy

Punita Khanna

Ajay P. Kothari, Ph.D.

Law Office of Rupal G. Kothari, P.C.

Harsha Krishnappa & Smita Basak

Arvind Kumar, M.D. & Chitra Kumar, M.D.

Narendra Lakhani

LanceSoft, Inc.

Sanjiv & Rajika Mahan

Maharashtra Foundation

Ketan & Juliet Majmudar

Dilip Mehta

Ajay K. Ojha, Ph.D.

Maulik Pancholy & Ryan Corvaia

Nayan & Asha Parikh

Tushar Patel & Monica Shah


Shilpa Pradhan & Douglas E. Wilson

Gautam & Anjali Prakash

Rahul & Sujata Ranadive

Bhupen & Surbala Randeria

Saurashtra Patel Cultural Samaj - DC Chapter

Deepak Shah

Jigar & Khushali Shah

Shreedhar & Sonal Shah

Suresh & Neena Shenoy

Shri Yoga Vedanta Ashram, Inc.

Jayant & Yogini Shroff Family Foundation

Hakumat & Bindu Shroff

Dr. Rajesh & Chitra Shrotriya

Spice Tech Group

Thilla Thuraisingham

Vandana & Ravi Tilak

Ranvir & Adarsh Trehan

Deodatt Wadke, Ph.D. & Rupa Wadke

Jhamandas Watumull Fund

Credits: Story

Curated by — Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
With Support from — Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture
With Support from — Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
With Support from — Smithsonian Office of Exhibits Central
With Support from — Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
With Support from — Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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