In Spring of 2017, a concept for a new museum came to fruition, the Chinese American Museum DC, a bold effort to build the first and only museum in our nation's capital dedicated to the Chinese American story – its history, culture, and voice. CAMDC will not just be a museum for Chinese in America. This is a museum about American history for everyone!
By November of 2017, the newly formed Chinese American Museum Foundation, a non-profit management team of museum, historical, and operational professionals, acquired a building located at 16th Street and M Street NW, in the historic Embassy Row of downtown DC. The five-story, 1907 Neo-Baroque-style mansion began undergoing one year of renovations to update and modernize the space to turn it into state-of-the-art museum space.
A New Museum
The Foundation announced the museum project on November 8, 2018 at a dinner event held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel attended by nearly 160 leaders from the museum, art, historical and academic, government, and business communities.
The first exhibit that visitors see at the museum is the Digital Photo Wall, a three dimensional, animated digital sculpture that features photos and quotes from amazing everyday Chinese Americans. We wanted the first experience at the museum to focus on identity, legacy, and personal stories. Visitors to the museum’s web site can submit their photos and quote online. Stories range from reflections on family to hopes for the future.
The Chinese American Museum is as much about tradition and culture as it is about history. The Chinese in America are not one monolith description of a people. We come from dramatically different backgrounds, experiences, and points of origin across the Chinese diaspora.
A key concept to take away from the museum’s growing programs and content, is behind the reception desk, “The Chinese American story IS an American story.”
Small museum. Big story to tell.
Developing a new museum creates an incredible amount of work, but more importantly, it takes collaboration. The Chinese American Museum is working with numerous museums, cultural organizations, and experts to tell this history in a meaningful and effective way.
Even during its development, the museum continues to build a menu of content, events, and special exhibits to engage broad audiences and build community. In October 2019, the museum began limited “sneak peek” hours and special content. In March 2020, like all museums in Washington, DC, we closed for live, in-person activities. But the pandemic accelerated the museum’s online efforts and renewed our commitment to creating a museum with a hybrid in-person and digital approach.
In March 2021, the museum held its first Virtual Gala themed “Build it together!” with entertainment and inspiration through a lineup of luminaries, visionaries and performers in an all-star virtual program. Broadcast journalists Richard Lui (MSNBC) and Joie Chen (CNN) emceed the evening with outstanding honorees and guests featuring a cappella group, Ethnobeat, contemporary and traditional artists, America’s Got Talent winner, magician Shin Lim.
Honorees include Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, television journalist Connie Chung, astronaut Taylor Wang, advocate and CEO of TIME’S UP Now, Tina Tchen, the inventor of the N95 mask technology, Dr. Peter Tsai, screenwriter Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon), and Daphne Kwok, VP of Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy at AARP.
CAMDC Virtual Gala Highlight Reel (2021-03-25) by Chinese American Museum DCChinese American Museum DC
Chinese American Museum Pin (2019) by Chinese American Museum DCChinese American Museum DC
Come join the conversation and learn how Chinese American history is full of amazing stories and part of an American legacy.