Mission & History

Founded in New York City in 1926 by American educators John Dewey, Paul Monroe, and Chinese scholars Hu Shi (胡適) and Kuo Ping-Wen (郭秉文), China Institute in America is an internationally-renowned U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to deepening the world’s understanding of China through programs in art, business, culinary, culture, and education.

China Institute in America has played an important role in U.S.-China relations that continues today. In 1930, the Institute sponsored the renowned Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang on his historic tour of North America and his debut in New York on Broadway. Through the intervention of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and U.S. Economic Advisor Lauchlin Currie in 1938, China Institute obtained scholarship-in-aid for Chinese students in America from the U.S. Department of State. In the 1950s, the Institute set up a placement service to help Chinese professionals find jobs and opened Chinese student hospitality centers. 1983 marked the launch of the Corporate Program to promote discussion on U.S.-China trade and investment issues, as well as sponsorship of the first U.S. tour of the Hunan Flower Drum Opera Troupe. In 2015, the Institute expanded its impact, moving to a new 50,000 sq. ft. space in Lower Manhattan, as part of the post-9/11 revitalization of the area, with funding support from the New York City and State government.

For 98 years, China Institute has reached millions of people, providing them with the tools to better understand the complexity and dynamism that is China. The Institute is a leader in providing the insight, knowledge, and context about China that goes beyond the headlines.

China Institute Gallery is one of the most highly regarded institutions for Chinese art in the U.S. that presents acclaimed thematic exhibitions of masterpieces spanning 5,000 years of China’s history, showcasing artwork rarely seen outside China.

The School of Chinese Studies provides language and cultural instruction for students of all ages and trains educators in best practices for teaching Chinese in the classroom. China Institute’s public programming offer talks, panel discussions, film screenings, and performances that connect our diverse audiences with leading Chinese and Chinese-American artists, authors, filmmakers, historians and other cultural creators.

The Center for Business serves as an important convener for exchanges between business leaders and innovators that illuminate the dynamic Chinese economic landscape. The Executive Summit, in its 20th year, provides a unique platform for dialogue on current U.S.-China business relations with top executives.

Opening in June 2024, our new ground floor will see the installation of a professional culinary center, celebrating and elevating the art of Chinese cuisine.

China Institute in America’s Historical Timeline

Dasheng Bells at China Institute in America

Walking into China Institute in America in downtown Manhattan, you will be greeted by the New Dasheng Bells (大晟新钟), a set of 20 golden bells exhibited in the Institute’s main hall. Constructed in bronze, the bells vary in sizes and weigh between 12kg to 120kg each.

Designed by Dr. Youping Li (李幼平) from the Wuhan Conservatory of Music (WHCM) based on a surviving set of artifacts from the 12th century Song dynasty, these replicas were minted by Wuhan Mechanical Technology Institute CO., Ltd., and are a product of collaboration between WHCM and University of Michigan (U-M) in 2013. The New Dasheng Bells made their debut in the U.S. in 2017 and was subsequently moved to Valparaiso University, in 2019. Having been used in various performances in Wuhan, Ann Arbor, Chicago and New York, the Bells present an extraordinary story of cross-cultural exchange between the U.S. and China.

On December 29, 2022, the New Dasheng Bells were gifted to China Institute in America by Valparaiso University, a generous donation to enable China Institute in America, New York City’s go-to resource on China, to continue and advance its mission to deepen the understanding of Chinese culture through music and beyond. 

China Institute in America thanks the generous gift from Valparaiso University, officially made at the “Friendship Lasts Forever” concert at Carnegie Hall, New York City on December 29, 2022.

China Institute Next Gen x Serica (CINGS)

CINGS stands at the intersection of environmental protection and social equity. As a collaboration between the China Institute in America and Serica, we champion initiatives that drive both knowledge sharing and on-ground action.

For more info, click here.

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