The Arts of Devotion

a grid of five images: an ink painting of two scholars, four students taking notes on the peacock room, four south asian women dancing, an older man with a beard, a woman praying

The Arts of Devotion is a five-year initiative at the National Museum of Asian Art that has been generously funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The Arts of Devotion aims to further civil discourse around religion through the museum’s collections of Hindu and Buddhist art and arts of the Islamic world.

The Arts of Devotion focuses on the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. These religions are living traditions that have origins in the broad geographic area of Asia and are now global religions found in numerous countries, including the United States. The Arts of Devotion initiative engages with communities from these religious traditions as well as with other key communities to help deepen our ability to tell stories about these artworks. These are stories of continuity and disruption, of travel and transformation. These artworks live in the museum but have lives that extend far beyond its physical walls.

The Arts of Devotion includes four exhibitions and a learning resource that explore different expressions of belief, behavior, and belonging.


  • ink painting of a man with fluffy, triangular hair and a wispy mustache and beard

    Mind Over Matter

    Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan brings together works of Zen Buddhism in medieval Japan, digital tools, and contemporary community voices.

  • a krishna sculpture, a smiling figure. the arms and nose of the sculpture are broken.

    Revealing Krishna

    Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain transports visitors to the floodplains of southern Cambodia, where a monumental sculpture of the Hindu god Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan once stood.

  • three men dancing, their sleeves so long they cover their fingers.

    Coming soon

    Beyond Rumi

    Beyond Rumi, a fully digital exhibition, highlights Sufism in its diversity and multiplicity around the world.

  • a blue faced figure in ornate clothing and among flowers

    Coming soon

    Krishna’s Path of Grace

    Krishna’s Path of Grace explores the meaning and presence of Krishna through pichwai—monumental temple hangings—and stories of his feats through exquisite court paintings.

Learning Resource

  • three students look at the peacock room

    Coming soon

    Teaching Asian Religions

    Teaching Asian Religions is an educational hub for teachers, students, and visitors to understand objects related to the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

Additional Resources


Explore past events and register for future public programs

a hand over a golden bowl surrounded by flowers

(In Person) Sacred Art from Cambodia: Blessing Ceremony

Saturday, May 14, 2022, 2 pm

This event was a communal blessing ceremony for the exhibition Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain, on view from April 30 to September 18, 2022. Led by two monks from the Cambodian Buddhist temple Watt Buddhacheya Mongkol in Woodbridge, Virginia, the ceremony used practices such as chanting, sprinkling water, and specific hand gestures to confer protection and good luck. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed Cambodian-inspired refreshments by Oh Graze Away and Little Lana’s Cookies. They then went inside to experience the exhibition and meet curator Emma Natalya Stein and praCh Ly, director of the documentary film Satook, which explored the transformation of religious traditions in Cambodian American communities.

Image courtesy of praCh Ly

a man in a scarf

(In Person) Gallery Talk: Meet Filmmaker praCh Ly

Saturday, May 14, 2022, 3 pm

Visitors joined us in the museum galleries for an informal Q&A with film director praCh Ly, who directed the short documentary Satook, which examines the transformation of religious traditions in Cambodian American communities through the ruptures of war and immigration. The film centers on four intimate conversations with survivors and members of the diaspora who left the country as a result of the Khmer Rouge genocide. They share their personal experiences and memories of their parents and reflect on their communities and journeys of belief. The film also examines the contemporary meanings of ancient sacred sites in Cambodia and considers more broadly the diversity and complexities of religion in four different locations in the United States. Satook played continuously in the gallery as part of the exhibition Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain.

praCh Ly is a critically acclaimed and award-winning artist. First known as a musician, his debut album was the first number one rap album in Cambodia. Through masterful lyrics, his music not only entertains but also educates. His involvement in film has ranged from scoring and creating original music to producing and directing projects, including Enemies of the People and In the Life of Music. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Cambodia Town Film Festival in Long Beach, California.

Image courtesy of praCh Ly

a woman and an instrument, a circular gate looking onto a flowering tree

Cherry Blossom Outdoor Concert—Crossroads of Japanese Music: Yumi Kurosawa and Friends

Saturday, April 3, 2022 at 3pm

Attendees joined us in the museum’s garden for a special outdoor concert in celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Japanese musician and composer Yumi Kurosawa performed on a modern twenty-string koto and was joined by violinist Emil Israel Chudnovsky and Chinese flute (dizi) virtuoso Yimin Miao. Their program featured classical music from Japan and China as well as new music composed by Kurosawa for this event inspired by the Freer Gallery of Art exhibition Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan.

Related Material

Video Poster
ink painting of an old man


The Arts of Devotion is a five-year initiative at the National Museum of Asian Art dedicated to furthering civic discourse and understanding of religion. This initiative is made possible by

  • Lilly Endowment Inc. A Private Philanthropic Foundation