China Institute's purpose is to advance a deeper understanding of China through various programs, including art, to promote cross-cultural understanding.

China Institute Gallery is known for its thematic exhibitions, which are accompanied by in-depth scholarly catalogues. The Gallery has presented over 100 exhibitions in such areas as calligraphy, painting, ceramics, bronzes, decorative art, folk art, architecture, photography, textiles, and contemporary art - covering 5,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic period to present day.

The Institute mounts two major Exhibitions each year.