In 2008 Crescentera partnered with the Waka Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution to bring a Traditional Medicine exhibit as well as healing practitioners from Bhutan to Washington to take part in this once in a lifetime cultural exchange. They shared their practices and Bhutan’s approach to medicine, which combines traditional and nontraditional treatments.
Bhutan has been known as “The Land of Medicinal Plants” since ancient times, and has a rich pharmacopoeia of medicinal treatments prepared with a wide range of plant, animal, and mineral substances found within the remote Himalayan region. The preservation of the plants and their habitats, as well as the training of future generations of healers was foremost on the agenda.
The program’s planning period was used to strengthen the human and institutional capacity of some of Bhutan’s new cultural institutions and recently created museums, including the National Institute for Traditional Medicine. In this way, these emerging scholarly centers for the study and documentation of Bhutan’s cultural history are continuing to benefit long after the Festival’s end.
Through live demonstrations, dance and musical performances, narrative sessions and a variety of hands-on activities, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2008 exhibition “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon” explored Bhutan’s rich culture, rooted in deep respect for and protection of the Kindom’s culture, community, resources and environment.
This “museum without walls”, which featured approximately 140 Bhutanese artists, dancers, cooks, craftspeople, carpenters, farmers and representatives of monastic life, was the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Bhutanese life and culture ever presented outside of the kingdom.