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: 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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MOCA Monday: PS 23

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.

Classmates from P.S. 23 pose for a school picture in 1942.

MOCA’s Collections & Research Center is located on the 2nd floor of the former Public School 23 building on the corner of Mulberry and Bayard Streets, diagonal from Columbus Park. For many years the Museum hosted reunions where former classmates gathered to swap stories of their golden school days.

(If you know anyone in the photo, let us know!)


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MOCA Monday: The Lotus

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

Menu for The Lotus, Washington, DC, circa 1940s. Harley Spiller Collection.

Menu from The Lotus, a part of MOCA’s 2004 exhibition “Have You Eaten Yet?” which took a historical look at a central image of Chinese American life – the Chinese restaurant. Often the first introduction to Chinese culture for many Americans, the Chinese restaurant has functioned since the nineteenth century as a site of cultural exchange. The exhibit traced the Chinese restaurant’s origin and growth in America, and explored how these cultural negotiations have been made over time. It took a revealing look at American and Chinese perceptions and expectations through historical menu collections, and Chinese food stories and legends.

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From Our Collection: Daily Dose

1989.002.048, Courtesy of the Chinese Musical Theater Association, MOCA Collection.

Dark blue hat with embroidery.

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From Our Collection: Daily Dose

2004.026.008, Courtesy of Kenneth & Helen Chan, MOCA Collection.

On back: “By-line Feature: Supplied by International News Photots

235 East 45th Street New York City

For Release: October 11, 1942

Chinatown’s Pride: Photo by Sonnee Gottlieb

LEARNING THE ROPES……Just as any other group of Boy Scouts, the boys of Troop 150 must learn their knots. Assistant Scoutmaster Horance Eng is coaching some of the younger members of the Troop in knot-magic here. It is one of the first crafts in which scouts become proficient.

S955968

Please observe release date and credit line”

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From Our Collection: Daily Dose (Valentine’s Day Edition)

Happy Valentine’s Day from MOCA! Can you translate the text on this button?

2007.012.020, Courtesy of Rocky Chin, MOCA Collection.

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From Our Collection: Daily Dose

2009.027.014, Courtesy of Andrew Cahan. Lion & Ball medicine box.

On front: “Lion & Ball Trade Mark / Very Effective to Headache & Cold”

On back, in English: “NGOI KUM SAM. This medicine acts like a charm for sufferers of the following sickess [sic]: headache cold and influenza / rheumatism vomiting toothache and / stomach ache etc. etc.”

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From Our Collection: Lion Dances, Then and Now

If you’ve been to Chinatown during Lunar New Year, you know that the celebrations are loud and colorful: street vendors sell vibrant fruits and flowers, and bright confetti lines the streets. The most well-known part of Lunar New Year, though, seems to be the lion dances that attract throngs of people every year.

During the new year, dance troupes visit local homes and businesses in the neighborhood, accompanied by the sound of deep drums and sharp cymbals. The lion dance—an ancient tradition—is meant to chase away evil spirits and bring good luck and prosperity. Our Collections Department presents a few photographs of lion dances from the last century:

Early 1900’s. 2004.073.018, MOCA Collection. Colored postcard depicting the Chinese Lion Dance on Chinese New Year. Printed on the back: “Chinatown at the Turn-of-the-Century from the antique original. Carinell-Vincent Co. Courtesy of K. Yee Collection.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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