The Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

MOCA Monday: Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

Artist Lee Mingwei commissioned books that asked participants to reflect on the experience of leaving home.

In a break from MOCA Monday’s commitment to showcasing images from the collections, we’d like to share an image from a current exhibition: Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers. This piece was just written up in The New Yorker’s Goings on About Town. We invite you to view it through March 26. From their piece:

Two impressive installations by the Taiwanese-born artist grapple with the meaning of home. In “The Quartet Project” (2005), four video monitors, tucked behind partitions, document musicians performing Dvořák’s Op. 96 in F Major; known as the “American string quartet,” it was written while the Czech composer was on an extended visit to the U.S. The ambient play of light on the wall evokes both domesticity (home fires burning) and alienation (the flicker of TV spied through a stranger’s window). For “The Travelers,” which was commissioned by the museum in 2010, Lee made a hundred blank notebooks and invited participants to write down their thoughts about leaving home and then pass the books on to others and ask them to do the same. An air of distance is evident. One woman notes that in Europe, she says she’s from the U.S., in New York, she says she’s from California, and in San Francisco, she says she’s from Taipei. Even Maya Lin, who designed the museum, admits, “I still see myself as a Midwesterner, not a true New Yorker.” Through March 26.

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MOCA Monday: Civil Rights

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

In 1963, more than 200,000 people participated in the March on Washington demonstrations. It was there that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech. On this day, MOCA is proud to honor the many protestors (of every color, class and creed) who have worked together to move this country closer to Dr. King’s dream.

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MOCA Monday: Fly to Freedom

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

A ship made entirely of folded paper by refugees detained after the Golden Venture ran aground.

MOCA’s Fly to Freedom Collection includes 123 paper sculpture created by passengers of the ship Golden Venture.  The Golden Venture ran aground on June 6, 1993 and a significant portion of the nearly 300 passengers were held in detention by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, some for up to four years.  Detainees created sculptures first as gifts to pro-bono lawyers who took up their cases, and later, to pass time during the long days spent incarcerated.  Sculptures vary in design and subject matter, including simple pineapples to more complex forms like eagles, which supporters began to call “freedom birds.”  While connected to a specific immigrant experience, this collection illuminates the development, transmission, evolution, and maintenance of an often over-looked traditional art form.

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MOCA Monday: Chinatown Film Project

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

A film still from Jem Cohen's New York Night Scene.

 

The Chinatown Film Project tackled the evocative neighborhood’s reputation–true and stereotyped–by creating unique stories for the audience to engage with. The project began by asking ten of New York’s most exciting filmmakers to present a new take on a global icon. Contributors included Miguel Arteta, Patty Chang, Jem Cohen, Cary Fukunaga, Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim, Amir Naderi, Sam Pollard, Shelly Silver, Rose Troche, Wayne Wang and Richard Wong.

More information can be found here, and copies are available for sale in the Museum Shop.

 

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MOCA Monday: Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

Jadin Wong: singer, dancer, comedienne and agent.

 

“Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance! Chinese America in the Nightclub Era” was a multimedia exhibition on the entertainers who broke with tradition, defied stereotypes and expectations, and opened doors for the many generations of Asian American artists to come. In 2002, MOCA presented this spotlight on performers of the 1930s-50s including (among others) the performer Jadin Wong, pictured above. Jadin was a pioneering Chinese American actress, singer, dancer (and later in life, talent agent and manager) with a quick wit and an tireless passion for Asian Americans in the arts.

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MOCA Monday: Burr Puzzle

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

Antique Burr-Ball diagram. Yi Zhi Tang Collection.

 

This vintage diagram of a Burr puzzle was included in the exhibition “Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind”, curated by Wei Zhang and Peter Rasmussen from their Yi Zhi Tang collection. (Previously blogged about here by Ting-Chi Wang and here by Marissa Chen.) Do you have a favorite game or puzzle? It is more traditional, like Tangrams or Linked-Rings, or more modern, like Settlers of Catan or Uno? Share your favorite in our comments!

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MOCA Monday: Holiday Bazaar

We’re doing things a little differently this week–we’d like to invite you to come shop our Holiday Bazaar!

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MOCA Monday: Thanksgiving

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

Happy Thanksgiving, MOCA Friends and Family!

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MOCA Monday: Yellow Peril

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

The Master Detective, January, 1911. Yoshio Kishi Collection.

This image was included in the show “Archivist of the Yellow Peril: Yoshio Kishi Collecting for a New America”. Yellow peril is a term for the race-based fear that an influx of Asian immigrants would threaten white standards of living. It was also a frequent theme in pulp entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with villains portrayed much in the manner above, where a long-nailed Chinese man is depicted as threatening a white woman. This and other stereotypes are also explored at the Museum in the core exhibition.

MOCA wants to know: how do you respond to this? When you look at an image like this, what thoughts or emotions are stirred? We invite you to share with us in the comments section.

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MOCA Monday: Flushing Ballroom

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

Ballroom by photographer Kien Lee.

In 2003 the Museum of Chinese in America presented “Main Street, Flushing USA”, a creative documentation project around the Chinese American community in Flushing, Queens. The exhibition included photographs by Kien Lee, who said of his work “What I find for myself is that there is also more things going around you then you think.  Like the people sitting in front of the library enjoying the night air, ballroom dancing at night. What I tried to show in my images is how Flushing is at night.”

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