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From Art to Economics: What to See and Do at NYC's China Institute

Whether your interest in things Chinese relates to art, language, programs for kids and teens or cultural topics, Lower Manhattan's China Institute is a great resource. Read on for our picks for what to see there now.

Zhang Anlu

Zhang Anlu piece on display in the Art of the Mountain exhibition at The China Institute.

Art of the Mountain, an exhibition of contemporary photography, draws on the Chinese belief that mountains are the pillars holding up the sky. The exhibit of 60+ works taken between 1990 and 2017 is on view until December 2, 2018 and includes aerial shots and other views of sacred mountains, some using Photoshop technology to riff on traditional themes and comment on recent Chinese industrialization. The gallery is open daily except Sundays; $10 adults/$5 students and seniors/children free with all admission free Thursdays from 6-8 PM. Check website for coordinated art and culture workshops as well as lectures. The last Thursday of each month heralds the Qin and Tonic gathering with free admission and the chance to meet and mingle while enjoying the artwork. (On June 28, in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival, the Qin and Tonic mixer will be open from 6-9pm.)

On June 19 and 26 from 6-8pm, Ben Wang, award–winning lecturer on classical Chinese literature, conducts a course exploring the mountain in classical Chinese poetry. The June 19th event is part of Night at the Museums evening, where downtown participating museums offer free admission.

China Institute downtown NYC

Summer classes in Mandarin for adults and children start early July, available for all levels of proficiency and enjoyed by many non-Chinese. There is a special class for travelers who want to preface a trip by learning basic communication skills.  If you want to take a class but aren’t sure what level to pursue, the institute will help you work it out. There are is also a day camp and classes for adults and kids in Chinese Go, a game that sharpens the mind, helping coordinate the left and right brains, popular internationally and an entertaining change from crossword puzzles.

Throughout the year there are special events such as a visit to a privately held art collection in a trustee’s home; the annual Economic Summit, a full-day conference held this year at the Harvard Club; and evening presentations. Check out Thought Gallery for the lastest talks.

china institute fashion gala

Each May, The China Institute presents its Fashion Gala, held this year at the Plaza Hotel. The 2018 program honored designers Christian Louboutin; Alessandro Bastagli and Massimiliano Giornetti, as well as Maggie Q, one of the first Asian actresses to lead an American television network series. Typically the Gala includes a cocktail reception, dinner, runway presentation and dance performance. Tickets sell out fast.

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About the Author

Mari S. Gold is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The New York Times, American Profile, Go Nomad,, Stratton Magazine, Go World Travel, and other outlets. A lifelong New Yorker and avid traveler, she also writes on food, theater, and other cultural events. Her blog, But I Digress…can be found at

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