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Wing Luke Museum, Seattle

Categories: Specialty Museums, Museums
Inspirock Rating:
4.4/5 based on 200+ reviews on the web
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is a history museum located in Seattle, Washington's Chinatown-International District. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Wing is dedicated to engaging the public to explore issues related to the culture, art and history of Asian Pacific Americans. It is the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in America, highlighting the issues and life-experiences of one of the fastest-growing racial groups in the United States. In February 2013 it gained recognition as one of two dozen "affiliated areas" of the U.S. National Park Service.CollectionsThe Wing's collections have over 18,000 items, including artifacts, photographs, documents, books, and oral histories. Parts of the museum's collections are viewable through its online database. There is an oral history lab inside the museum for staff and public use.ExhibitsThe Wing houses temporary and permanent exhibitions related to Asian American history, art, and cultures. The museum represents over 26 ethnic groups.The museum uses a community-based exhibition model to create exhibits. As part of the community-based process, the museum conducts outreach into communities to find individuals and organizations to partner with. The Wing then forms a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to determine the exhibit's direction. Staff at the museum conduct research, gathers materials, and records relevant oral histories under the guidance of the CAC. The CAC also determines the exhibit's overall design and content. The process may take place over a period of a year to 18 months.
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  • This is one of best museum I have ever been to. Now in its third location, the Wing Luke has existed since the 1960s. The depth and details of their ever changing exhibits is astounding. This is a mus...  read more »
  • This Museum is located in China Town and got lots of Asian Historical Artifacts. Its depicts the migration of Asians, especially Chinese into USA. 
  • My husband and I happened upon this museum while we were wandering through Chinatown. There were very few people at the museum while we were there. Not sure if that's common or if it was the time of t...  read more »
  • I sympathize with the aim of the museum, which is to accurately document the Asian-American experience, particularly in Seattle. This is a decent first try. You should only visit if you want to donate to the museum, to help it improve. The museum suffers from a general lack of polish. It's probably a result of limited funding, since most major donors give to large, non-specialized institutions like the Seattle Art Museum. This reflects a cultural bias among wealthy white donors toward European art, and more generally white artists. An important precursor to Wing Luke's success will be a change in mind among these donors, as well as contributions from individuals interested in the museum's success. If you're contemplating how to improve interracial understanding, especially in Seattle, you'd do well to donate to Wing Luke. This museum has the potential to change attitudes in a helpful way. The place is, most problematically, small. There's not much to see; major museums in New York and other international cities cover a much wider range of topics in more depth. There's roughly enough space to thoroughly document the experience of Chinese-Americans, or Filipino-Americans, or any other ethnic sub-group. But the place is far too small to speak to the experiences of all these people. It feels scattered. They clearly want to recognize the unique experiences of a range of folks, and I admire that, but the place lacks focus. The museum also suffers from a lack of voice. As the younger, less established cousin of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Wing Luke has the freedom to take chances and express an independent perspective, but it doesn't. It purports to document the Asian-American experience, but only does so in a bland, general way. You don't sense a compelling mantra for what the museum wants to accomplish or how it hopes to impact visitors, other than generally to educate them. (And as we know, one can be educated without actually learning anything). Here and there, the museum makes a statement, like with the beautiful and chilling hallway on the second floor, at the top of the staircase. It reflects East Asian philosophies and aesthetics in a simple, peaceful way. I'd like to see more of this risk-taking and expressiveness. I want Wing Luke to take a stand on social issues. Perhaps their goal is to push for Asian empowerment. If so, make that clear. Make it central to the whole experience. I suspect they're playing it safe to appease corporate donors like Boeing, but they'd make much more of an impact if they shed the pleasant veneer and expressed some raw feeling. I should have left even more outraged about Japanese internment and Chinese enslavement but I ended up feeling no strong emotions either way. There are also tons of local issues they could cover. How about the decision to build Seattle's sports stadiums in the International District, introducing tons of traffic and little economic benefit, sacrificing Asian-American immigrants to sports league profits? You wouldn't realize from this museum that anyone had even debated the matter. Wing Luke fails at one of its central potential achievements, which is to make abstract problems personal and local. Any museum in the world could talk about racial problems. Why doesn't Wing Luke talk about the Seattle experience? The quality of exhibits ranges wildly, from painfully mediocre to decent. When I visited they offered a fashion-oriented exhibit geared toward kids, where people could dress up in costumes. It was tacky, a waste of space and a distraction from the museum's presumed goals of advancing intercultural understanding and equality. You can teach people of all ages about a topic without resorting to physical comedy. If this museum wants to be taken seriously as a reflection of the struggles, accomplishments, and ideals of the Asian-American community it needs more funding from a variety of sources and more focus.
  • The Wing Luke is a neighborhood staple helping preserve the history of the Chinatown/International District neighborhood. You can learn a lot about this neighborhood's history. Go while the Bruce Lee exhibit is still up!
  • Great museum!! Definitely take the time to go and check this out and take the tour. The history is incredible and its cool to step back into time and see a part of Seattle's history.
  • A great collection of exhibits that tells the many stories of what we commonly call Asian-Americans. They have a fantastic staff and it's a great deal
  • Unique cultural museum named after a beloved Chinese-American politician who died in a plane crash. Art exhibitions. Historic building. Take the tour of the former residence hotel, still as it was in the early 20th century. Also, visit nearby Panama Hotel and take a break at its comfy coffee shop. The entire neighborhood was a highlight of my trip to Seattle.
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