For the second time, the museum’s monthly ARTafterDARK party celebrates Noruz—the Persian New Year—this Friday. The event is the brainchild of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, a private nonprofit foundation dedicated to perpetuating and raising awareness of Persian culture in Honolulu—and beyond.

Founded in 2000 by Dr. Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali and led by a dedicated board of directors, Roshan Institute sponsors cultural and educational activities and programs with a primary focus on preservation, transmission, and instruction of Persian culture. The foundation is dedicated to fostering community among Persian people and those interested in Persian cultural heritage. To execute this mission, the Institute develops initiatives that provide support for partnerships with other nonprofit organizations and institutions such as schools, universities, libraries, museums, and private sector donors that share its goals in support of Persian culture.

Roshan Institute has generously supported Persian-related programming at the museum, beginning in 2009 with the first ever celebration of Persian New Year in Honolulu and followed by the first ARTafterDARK: Noruz in 2010. This year the Institute’s support continues with Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday: Noruz (held last week) and the upcoming ARTafterDARK: Roshan Institute Noruz on March 28. Visitors will be able to hear Persian music, a Persian poetry reading, explore the museum’s Persian art in the Islamic Arts gallery, and, of course, see a traditional Haftsin spread around which the family gathers to celebrate Noruz (pictured above, the goldfish symbolizes life energy in the Haftsin). Then in September, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute sponsors the first Persian Screen Film Festival at the Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre.

Last fall, the Institute established a strong presence at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa through the creation of the Persian Language, Linguistics and Culture Program in the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature. Now for the first time, the university offers courses in Persian language, literature, and culture. The Institute also offers significant support to the university’s graduate students through fellowships in Persian Studies. The new program plays a leading role in organizing and encouraging events and activities related to Persian culture on campus and in the community.