WASHINGTON (Feb. 15, 2012)—The National Geographic Museum will present a uniquely Washington perspective of the storied Japanese Samurai warriors in the new exhibition “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed,” open Wednesday, March 7, through Monday, Sept. 3. Through photographs, suits of armor and weapons, the exhibition explores the role and symbolism of the Samurai as part of the relationship between the United States and Japan and the role the Samurai played as diplomats and cultural ambassadors.
“Samurai: The Warrior Transformed” looks at the transformation of Samurai from a feudal military class dominating Japanese history from 1185 to1867 to their serving as diplomats, building bridges with the West. The exhibition traces the history of the Samurai, their importance in U.S.-Japanese relations and their enduring legacy. Divided into six sections, the exhibition features artifacts such as swords presented to Ulysses S. Grant and elaborate suits of armor given to Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Illustrations and photographs further chart the role Samurai played in relations between the United States and Japan, from their first visit in 1860 through the 1930s.
A complementary gallery of photographs, “Reflections of Japan: Photographs by Eliza Scidmore,” will showcase 27 hand-colored published and unpublished photographs from the National Geographic archives of Scidmore’s travels to Japan in the early 1900s. Featuring portraits, pearl diving and tea ceremonies, the photographs reflect Scidmore’s fascination with Japanese people and culture. The first woman to serve on the board of the National Geographic Society, Scidmore played a vital role in the gift of the cherry trees from Tokyo to Washington, which were planted along the banks of the Potomac and around the Tidal Basin in 1912.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, the museum will host a number of public programs, including events on the Japanese tea ceremony, flower arranging and fish printing. For a full schedule, visit www.ngmuseum.org.
On Saturday, March 31, National Geographic Live will host a day of Samurai films in conjunction with the exhibition. Beginning at 11 a.m., “Samurai Cinema” will feature “Samurai Rebellion,” “The Hidden Fortress” and “The Sword of Doom.” Tickets to each film are $5 and are available atwww.nglive.org.
National Geographic Books is publishing “CHERRY BLOSSOMS: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival” (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0921-5; on sale Feb. 28, 2012; $30; hardcover), by Ann McClelland, which celebrates the history of the cherry trees as well as the festival.
McClelland will be signing books at the National Geographic Store on March 21, March 30 and April 6. The store will hold a trunk show March 28-30 featuring antique vintage kimono and obi, silk jackets, kimono hairclips and accessories, Japanese silk bags and Yukata-cotton kimono from Paul MacLardy.
National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for National Geographic members, military, students, seniors and groups of 25 or more; $4 for children ages 5-12; and free (reservation required) for school, student and youth groups (age 18 and under). Tickets may be purchased online at www.ngmuseum.org; via telephone at (202) 857-7700; or in person at the National Geographic ticket office, 1600 M Street, N.W., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information on group sales, call (202) 857-7281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography exhibitions in the museum’s M Street gallery and outdoors are free. For information on the “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed” exhibition, the public should call (202) 857-7588 or visitwww.ngmuseum.org.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20-April 27, includes five spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.