Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate Persian New Year

The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries presents their fourth annual Nowruz celebration, Sunday, March 4, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. This year’s program features free entertainment and activities for all ages as well as delicious traditional food, all centered around newly installed galleries devoted to the arts of ancient Iran.

Visitors can look forward to a new line-up of performers. Vocalist Monika Jalili brings to life cherished Iranian songs from the 1940s to the 1970s, along with beloved folk songs in Persian, Azeri and other Iranian languages. Jalili and her ensemble on violin, guitar, oud and percussion will perform in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Dressed in colorful costumes, the Nomad Dancers will perform and teach traditional Persian danceat noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

Other programs include “fire” jumping and a variety of hands-on activities, such as making paper-flower arrangements, greeting cards, crowns, masks and puppets; Nowruz memory photo booths provide an opportunity to capture the event; chess and backgammon offer an opportunity to challenge the masters; and a text-messaging scavenger hunt tests visitors’ knowledge. Xanthe Gresham will retell stories from ancient Iran,and contemporary Persian dance beats by Radio Javan, along withtraditional Persian food for sale from Moby Dick House of Kabob, add more excitement to the day.

In celebration of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s 25th anniversary, “Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran,” will be on view in the galleries between the two museums. The exhibition features the Freer and Sackler’s extraordinary collection of luxury metalwork from ancient Iran. Considered one of the largest and finest holdings of its kind, the collection comprises works dating to the rule of the Achaemenid kings (550–330 BCE) to the early Islamic period.

“Nowruz: A Persian New Year” is made possible by a grant from Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar.

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