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.

Rest. Room.

“I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That’s art to me.”
— Maya Lin

“A lot of my works deal with a passage, which is about time. I don’t see anything that I do as a static object in space. It has to exist as a journey in time.” — Maya Lin

“Wow!”
“It’s beautiful.”
“So cool!”

These are the types of phrases that often escape the lips of visitors at MOCA.  The words seem to just slip out.  Reception guests mention it to staff members, describing the elegance of the space.  School groups open the door, forget to use their indoor voice and yell from shock at the beauty.  Many more take photographs to record the sight to share with friends.

This amazement is aimed at one space in particular here at the Museum.  Although most visitors comment on the quiet grace of the core exhibition or the contemplative serenity of the courtyard, this holds the attention of our visitors in a different way. What is this special place?  It is the Museum of Chinese in America’s very own restrooms.

Most museum restrooms are less than interesting, let alone inspiring.  With all the usual bathroom qualities (six stalls and a sink), MOCA’s is not all that different.  So what makes MOCA’s restrooms so unique to so many? There are two likely reasons. Where most other restrooms use clinical lighting, the MOCA restroom is a warmly, almost dimly lit room. The lighting makes one feel at home, cozy and comfortable.  However, the best part, and the part that takes everyone by surprise, is the huge circular mirror.

With six-feet in diameter, this mirror is cause for much commotion when a big group of girls head into the restroom together. Backlit with LED lights, the circle seems to float in the air.  Personally, I find this effect magical. Its reflection transports me to a peaceful space, I become reflective of not just myself, but of my history, the awareness of my place in time.

What do you think of our bathroom? Or any of the other wonderful spaces here at MOCA? We invite you to share your thoughts and photos of MOCA restrooms or any other parts of the Museum.

Sophia Ma
Assistant to the Director

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