Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan

Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art

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The Smithsonian Freer | Sackler Galleries on the Mall in Washington D.C. contain exquisite Asian art collections amid a series of regular temporary exhibitions. Roto’s 2015 exhibit about the lives and work of Afghan artisans has become one of the most popular.


  • Exhibit concept and schematic design
  • Interpretive planning, development and design
  • Exhibit engineering, large object mounts and coordination
  • Turnkey fabrication and installation
Smithsonian Freer Sackler Gallery
Smithsonian Freer Sackler Gallery by Roto

The ancient district of Murad Khane in old Kabul, ravaged by decades of war and strife, is with Western aid restoring traditional artisan trades such as calligraphy, wood carving, pottery and jewelry. This major 7,000 square foot exhibition showcases not only these amazing works of art, but tells the inspirational story of the artisans themselves. 

Roto Sackler Asia 2n3a0183 2
Roto Sackler Asia 2n3a0170 2

In partnership with Turquoise Mountain, who provided direct links to the artisan groups and their work in Kabul, including first-hand interviews and photography, Roto transformed a lower level gallery into a beautiful, contemplative exhibition experience. Large imagery, and a consistent focus on people and process over products and external events, gives this exhibition its emotional vibrancy.

"Many visitors are talking about The Turquoise Mountain exhibition as the best exhibition they’ve ever seen. We are grateful for the excellent collaboration we had with Roto."

- Cheryl Sobas, Head of Exhibitions, Freer | Sackler Gallery

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