05/29/2013 05:09 pm ET Updated May 29, 2013

Art Of Yoga Smithsonian Crowdfunding Campaign Kicks Off Ahead Of October Exhibit

Freer and Sackler Galleries

WASHINGTON -- More than 20 million Americans practice yoga and the number is climbing. To embrace the trend with an artsy twist, an upcoming Smithsonian exhibit traces the artistic past of this ancient practice.

"Yoga: The Art of Transformation" doesn't open at the Sackler Gallery until October 19, but Wednesday the museum kicked off a month-long crowdfunding campaign, the largest ever for the Smithsonian.

Why crowdfunding? As the museum explains in its FAQ section:

While federal taxpayer funding covers some of our costs (mostly operating costs, such as keeping the galleries clean and the lights on), private and public support -- whether from donors, sponsors, or grants -- cover the majority of expenses related to exhibitions and programming. We rely on public and private support to offer our programs and exhibitions free of charge to the public. Private and public support for the Yoga exhibition will help us create videos, publications, and pamphlets; print catalogs (and sell them for a much more reasonable price than through a bookstore!); offer yoga classes during the exhibition, and more.

The cost of putting on a major exhibition like this one is high -- but not unusual for the Freer|Sackler. It is simply necessary for keeping the artwork and visitors safe and ensuring a quality experience for both.

Whether or not the Sackler's fundraising goal of $125,000 is met, "The Art of Transformation" will open as scheduled in the fall. The upcoming exhibit includes more than 130 sculptures, paintings and photographs from the third century through the early 20th century.

Other highlights on the schedule include a family festival, free programs and maybe even yoga classes. The amount of programming depends in part upon money raised by the public and a network of "Yoga Messengers."

According to a release, "The Art of Transformation" "explores yoga’s philosophies and its goals of transforming body and consciousness, its importance within multiple religious and secular arenas, and the varied roles that yogis played in society, from sages to spies."

Click through the slideshow for a preview of some of the works of art on view as part of "Yoga: The Art of Transformation":

The Art Of Yoga

Following its debut in D.C., "Yoga: The Art of Transformation" will transfer to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (Feb. 21–May 25, 2014) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22–Sep. 7, 2014).

The Smithsonian's crowdfunding campaign runs through July 1; Washington City Paper noted the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum held a disappointing crowdfunding campaign for its 2012 Ai Weiwei exhibit, raising just $555 out of a $35,000 goal.