Mission & History

Mission

Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.

History

Asia Society was founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. Initially established to promote greater knowledge of Asia in the United States, the Society today is a global institution — with offices throughout the U.S. and Asia — that fulfills its educational mandate through a wide range of cross-disciplinary programming. As economies and cultures have become more interconnected, the Society's programs have expanded to address a range of issues including the effects of globalization, and pressing concerns in Asia such as environmental challenges, and rapid urbanization.

"We founders of Asia Society were confident that Asians and Americans are capable of a richer and more meaningful mutual understanding, because of shared hopes, fears and aspirations," Mr. Rockefeller said in a speech given in New York City in 1967.

In 2016, Asia Society celebrated its 60th anniversary with a series of programs and exhibitions looking back on its first six decades. Watch a short film about the organization's history here.

Here's what some leading figures have said about Asia Society:

"Over the years, the Asia Society has endeavored to strengthen US-Asia exchanges and cooperation and promote China-US relations, and I wish to express to you my appreciation for all this."
— President Hu Jintao, The People’s Republic of China

"...the Society has been invaluable in bringing together a wide variety of opinions on the encounter between Asia and the United States ... and has contributed to the transformation in India-U.S. ties manifest in recent times."
— Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, India

"The Asia Society has been playing an important role in deepening ties and understanding among the peoples of Asia-Pacific and the United States. I truly expect the Asia Society will enhance this role for furthering the region's stability and prosperity."
— Former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe

"The Asia Society has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about Asia among Americans and to strengthen relations between Asia and the United States."
— Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations

"At a time when the eyes of the world are on Asia, this institution is indispensable."
The New York Times