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: A Virtual Tour

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.

It has recently come to our attention that many of our blog visitors are not NYC locals, and have therefor not yet had a chance to visit the Museum! In a break from MOCA Monday’s commitment to showcasing images from the collections, we’d like to share a virtual tour of the space by artist, MOCA designer and Board of Trustees Co-Chair Maya Lin.

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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Reflects upon his Heritage

(Front Row Left to right) Jenny Low (Chinese-American Planning Council President), Virginia Kee (CPC Founder), NYC Comptroller John Liu, Secretary Locke, NYS Assemblywoman Grace Meng, S. Alice Mong (MOCA Director), Maya Lin (Artist & Designer of MOCA, Co-Chair of MOCA’s Board); (Back Row Left to Right) Herbert Kee (CPC Founder), Chung C. Seto (ChungSeto Group), Wellington Chen( Executive Director of Chinatown Partnership LDC), Linda Sun ( District Office Manager of Assemblywoman Meng’s office)

On May 12th, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited the Museum of Chinese in America. Maya Lin, designer of the Museum and Co-Chair of the Board, along with Director S. Alice Mong, gave Secretary Locke a tour of the Museum, congratulating him on his nomination as the new U.S. Ambassador to China. “We are truly honored to have Secretary Locke, MOCA’s 2005 honoree, and show him our new home as a national cultural anchor chronicling the history of Chinese in America,” said Director Mong. Secretary Locke had an opportunity to view the tile profiling him on the Luminary Wall, which is part of the Museum’s Core Exhibit, With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America. The Luminary Wall honors Chinese descendants who have made major contributions to American history, chronologically documenting their stories from all walks of life. Secretary Locke’s tile appears in Section 8: Towards a More Perfect Union, along those of Maya Lin, Ang Lee, David Ho and Elaine Chao.

After his visit, Secretary Locke reflected upon his experience growing up as a Chinese American in his blog post here.

Photo Caption: Secretary Locke with S. Alice Mong ( MOCA Director) and MOCA staff

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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

“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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MOCA on Twitter

  • We've moved! Please follow along @mocanyc for Museum exhibitions and programs information and culturally relevant links. 8 years ago