Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

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Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
Wing Luke Museum logo.svg
Seattle - East Kong Yick Building 01.jpg
The East Kong Yick Building shortly after re-opening as the new Wing Luke Asian Museum in May 2008.
Former name Wing Luke Memorial Museum (1967–1987), Wing Luke Asian Museum (1987–2010)
Established May 17, 1967 (1967-05-17)
(current location since 2008)
Location 719 S King Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
Coordinates 47°35′54″N 122°19′22″W / 47.59833°N 122.32278°W / 47.59833; -122.32278Coordinates: 47°35′54″N 122°19′22″W / 47.59833°N 122.32278°W / 47.59833; -122.32278
Type Ethnic history museum
President Casey Bui and Ellen Ferguson
Public transit access Link Light Rail (International District/Chinatown), King County Metro, First Hill Streetcar
Wing Luke Asian Museum, 2007. This was the second location of the museum from 1987-2007.

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (informally, The Wing[1]) is a history museum located in Seattle, Washington's Chinatown-International District. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate,[2] 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.[3] In February 2013 it gained recognition as one of two dozen "affiliated areas" of the U.S. National Park Service.[1]


The Wing's collections have over 18,000 items, including artifacts, photographs, documents, books, and oral histories.[4] 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.[5]


The Wing houses temporary and permanent exhibitions related to Asian American history, art, and cultures.[6] The museum represents over 26 ethnic groups.[7]

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.[8][9]

In 1995, the Wing received the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Award for Museum Service for its exhibit process.[8] Award-winning exhibits by the Wing include Do You Know Bruce?, a 2014 exhibit on Bruce Lee. The Association of King County Historical Organizations awarded Do You Know Bruce? the 2015 Exhibit Award.[7]


The museum is named in honor of the late Seattle City Council member Wing Luke, who was the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.[10] Luke suggested the need for a museum in the C-ID in the early 1960s to preserve the history of the rapidly changing neighborhood. After Luke died in a small plane crash in 1965, friends and supporters donated funds to start the museum he envisioned. The Wing Luke Memorial Museum, as it was first named, opened in 1967 in a small storefront on 8th Ave.

Initially the museum focused on Asian folk art, but soon expanded its programming to reflect the diversity of the local community. Almost from the beginning art was integral to its programming and the museum served as a venue for emerging local artists. By the 1980s pan-Asian exhibits generated by community volunteers became central to the museum.

In 1987 The Wing Luke moved to a larger home on 7th Ave and updated its name to Wing Luke Asian Museum. It achieved national recognition in the 1990s under the direction of local journalist Ron Chew, a pioneer of the community based model of exhibit development that placed personal experiences at the center of exhibit narratives. Today the museum continues to present exhibits and programs that promote social justice, multicultural understanding and tolerance.

In 2008 the museum relocated to its new much larger home at 719 S King St, housed in the renovated 1910 East Kong Yick Building. The new Wing Luke Asian Museum continues its work addressing civil rights and social justice issues while also preserving historic spaces within the building including the former Gee How Oak Tin Association room, the Freeman SRO Hotel, a Canton Alley family apartment, and the Yick Fung Mercantile.[11][12]

In 2010 the museum changed its official name to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, informally "The Wing."[13]



The Wing's current location is the East Kong Yick Building, one of two buildings (the other being the West Kong Yick Building) whose construction was funded by 170 Chinese immigrants in 1910. In addition to storefronts, the East Kong Yick Building contained the Freeman Hotel, which was used by Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants until the 1940s.[14] The museum's galleries now share the building with re-creations of the Gee How Oak Tin Association's meeting room, kitchens, and apartments that were located inside the hotel. The museum also preserves the contents of a general store, Yick Fung Co., which the owner donated in its entirety.[15]


The museum is located in Seattle's Chinatown-International District next to Canton Alley, historically a residential, commercial, and communal area.[16] The Wing runs Chinatown Discovery Tours, a tour service founded in 1985 that takes visitors to significant sites within the neighborhood.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jack Broom, National Parks to recognize Wing Luke Museum , Seattle Times, 2013-02-06. Accessed online 2013-02-09.
  2. ^ Smithsonian Affiliates list, Smithsonian Affiliations. Accessed 2015-09-08.
  3. ^ Cao, Lan; Novas, Himilee (1996). Everything You Need to Know About Asian American History. New York: Penguin Books. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0-452-27315-3. 
  4. ^ "Research > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  5. ^ "Oral History Program > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  6. ^ "About Us > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  7. ^ a b "Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience". Seattle Foundation. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  8. ^ a b "Exhibit Process > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  9. ^ "Community Advisory Committees > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  10. ^ David Takami, Luke, Wing (1925-1965), Essay 2047, January 25, 1999. Accessed 2015-09-08.
  11. ^ Broom, Jack (May 19, 2008). "Visitors to walk through time at new Wing Luke Asian Museum". The Seattle Times. 
  12. ^ Pearson, Clifford A. (June 2009). "Wing Luke Asian Museum". Architectural Record. McGraw Hill. Retrieved November 21, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Wing Luke Asian Museum expands name to Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, with 'The Wing' as its nickname" (PDF) (Press release). Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. April 22, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Building and Architecture > Wing Luke Museum". Wing Luke Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  15. ^ "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage". Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary. National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  16. ^ Nielsen, Peg (2014-06-26). "Alley Activation Creates New Pedestrian Friendly Venues". Seattle Department of Transportation Blog. Seattle Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  17. ^ "Chinatown Discovery Tours". Chinatown Discovery Tours. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 

External links[edit]