Museum Day 2016: Asian Pacific American Museums Edition

Museum Day 2016 is approaching fast on March 12, 2016. On Museum Day, the Smithsonian organizes museums around the country to make their exhibitions free—just like the Smithsonian museums.

This year’s theme, in honor of Women’s History Month in March, is making museums accessible to women of color. Tell us where you find APA women in your local museums #ImagineHer @SmithsonianAPA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’re thrilled that so many Asian Pacific American museums are participating in Museum Day. Here’s a list:

Los Angeles, CA

Visitors to the Japanese American National Museum will be able to view our core exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community, which chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history. Also on view will be Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920-1940, an in-depth exploration of the contributions of Japanese Americans to photography, particularly modernist photography; and Two Views: Photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank, an examination of the forced relocation of citizens of Japanese descent from the western coastal regions of the United States and Canada during World War II.

Honolulu, Hawaii

A palace with a driveway lined by palm trees.

Iolani Palace, built in 1882 and the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, is a marvel of opulence, innovation, and political intrigue that tells of a time when their Majesties, King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked its celebrated halls. Today, visitors can immerse themselves in Hawaii’s royal heritage. The Palace contains two floors of period rooms restored to the appearance from 1882-1887. On the first floor are the public reception areas, while the second floor includes the private suites. The Lower Galleries present royal orders, jewelry, and other personal items belonging to the monarchs.

St. Paul, MN

A view of the "We Are Hmong Minnesota" exhibit at the Center for Hmong Studies. Includes Hmong necklaces.

The Center for Hmong Studies is home to a rotating display of informative and engaging exhibitions, offering a rare and fascinating insight into the diversity and richness of the Hmong history and cultures. Our exhibits feature objects from our collection, such as traditional handmade clothing and textiles, jewelry, handicraft and household tools, historical documents, photos as well as ritual and religious artifacts. Currently, we are displaying some of the panels from the Minnesota Historical Society’s recently closed We Are Hmong Minnesota Exhibit, enhancing it with our collection to make this exhibit informative and educational for those with interest in learning about the Hmong history, culture, and language. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lee Pao Xiong at 651-641-8870 or

Hmong Cultural CenterHmong Cultural Center, Inc. Koom Haum Hmoob Kab Lis Kew Cai. 651-917-9937. is the home of the new Hmong History Center and Library, a unique institution promoting multicultural education through exhibits about Hmong culture and history and the Hmong Minnesota Community at the Western Avenue stop on the Green Line LRT in Saint Paul. The center’s featured exhibit is the newly installed Hmong Minnesota: Yesterday and Today. Hmong Cultural Center is the primary Hmong and Asian American organization in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that provides community outreach activities related to multicultural education for the purposes of promoting positive race relations in the Twin Cities community and a Hmong 101 program providing group lectures about Hmong culture and history.

New York, NY

The Museum of Chinese in America's exhibition on Chinese American history.
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
is a national home for the narratives of diverse Chinese American communities. MOCA’s space at 215 Centre Street is designed by artist Maya Lin, who is also known for designing the Women’s Table at Yale University, among other masterpieces. The Museum’s core exhibition, With a Single Step, showcases the collected stories of Anna May Wong, Hazel Ying Lee, and Grace Lee Boggs – all of whom served as pioneering women of color in their respective fields. Visitors can discover more about the journeys, memories and contributions of the Chinese American legacy through MOCA’s exhibits, programs, and tours.

Seattle, WA

A work on view at the wing with sumi-e calligraphy and a screen

Brush the Sky; Japanese sumi ink on polycarbonate panels, digital photographic prints, augmented reality in gallery and at sites throughout Seattle via Layar application; Tamiko Thiel and Midori Kono Thiel; 2015

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is dedicated to preserving the stories of immigrants coming to the United States as well as the Asian Pacific Americans living here. To celebrate this year’s theme of women in color, don’t miss the CONSTRUCT\S: Installations by Asian Pacific American Women Artists exhibit, where six artists draw from their lives and experiences, resulting in distinct and provocative narratives. This is the first all female exhibit in the history of the Museum. We also have many artifacts and artwork celebrating APA women, such as the black purse of Fumi Hayashida, made famous by the Seattle P-I photo, becoming a symbol of the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.

Powell, WY

A view of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, built to look like three World War II Japanese American incarceration barracks. On a hill in the background, the old hospital building with its iconic red chimney overlooks the Interpretive Center.

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center was built on a site of Japanese American World War II incarceration in Wyoming. In addition to exploring the museum and its award-winning permanent exhibits on the Japanese American incarceration experience, visitors will also have the opportunity to view a special exhibit “The Fabric of Memory,” which features original works of fiber arts made by the members of the Textile Artists of the Greater Yellowstone (TAGY). The pieces were inspired by their visits to Heart Mountain and the lives of the incarcerees they learned about who lived in the mountain’s shadow during World War II. The exhibit will also include a story quilt made by former incarceree Naoko Yoshimura Ito.”

Online Participants will be highlighting women of color authors for a whole week starting Wednesday, March 9. (As if that’s anything out of the ordinary for her!) BookDragon interviews Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni about her latest novel, Before We Visit the Goddess, which highlights multiple generations of mothers and daughters on both sides of the globe.

Pickles & Tea will be featuring the food stories of inspiring Asian American women, whether they cook for their families or for their customers, or just write about it. They include: Lisa Nakamura, an alumna of one of the nation’s best restaurants, the French Laundry, and owner of The Gnocchi Bar in Seattle; Monica Bhide, DC-based food writer and cookbook author; Keo Chalaphan, a Lao American grandmother.

Other Women’s History Month Events

Save the Date! The Women of Color Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is March 19 at 10 a.m. at the National Museum of the American Indian. Help us put profiles of more women of color on Wikipedia. Learn more here. Suggest women of color who need Wikipedia pages #ImagineHer.

If your museum is participating in Museum Day 2016 and has exhibitions focused on the history, art, and culture of Asian Pacific Americans, contact us at to be added to the blog post. Register to participate in Museum Day.