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New Smithsonian Exhibit Spotlights Role Of Indian Americans

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Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation includes photographs such as this 1983 snapshot of the Sharma family in San Francisco.
Prithvi Sharma
Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation includes photographs such as this 1983 snapshot of the Sharma family in San Francisco.

A new exhibit exploring the history of Indian Americans opens this week.

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation is the Smithsonian's first major exhibit to examine the history of Indian immigrants in the United States. It's now on display at the National Museum of Natural History and includes works of art, photographs, documents and artifacts highlighting the cultural, political and professional contributions of Indian Americans to American history.

The exhibit features engineers, doctors, railroad workers, politicians, designers and musicians, such as the genre-defying singer Asha Puthli, one of the pioneers of world fusion music. She says her first love was jazz, which she felt was the most indigenous form of American culture.

"And I really felt that I came from one of the oldest cultures," Puthli says. "And America to me was the youngest culture, and I wanted to synthesize the two."

The year-long exhibit is the largest program from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center since its founding in 1997.

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