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Museums: The Museum of Chinese in America Announces Opening

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The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), announced that it will open its new location at 215 Centre Street on Friday, June 26. The opening will coincide with the launch of MOCA’s 2009 summer program of independent films, pop culture, guided tours, book events and family activities. 

On Tuesday, September 22, officials and VIPs will preside over MOCA’s Celebration Ceremony to unveil the full MOCA core exhibit, "With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America" along with MOCA’s first group show, "Here & Now: Chinese Artists in New York, " featuring prominent contemporary artists of Chinese descent.

"From its community-based roots, MOCA’s new home marks its emergence as a national institution, " said Jonathan Ligh, M.D., Chair of MOCA’s Board of Trustees. "Our institutional capacity will increase six-fold and allow us to house a range of exhibitions and programs to facilitate a deeper and broader dialogue about Chinese American history, identity, and culture, " he added.

"The inspiration for this new home is the spirit of our Chinese American forebears and all that they have accomplished in America over the past 160 years, " said Executive Director and co-founder Charles Lai. He added, "We owe it to ourselves and our children to create an educational institution that is committed to fostering dialogue and exploring the meaning and dynamics of our diverse, immigrant-based-and-built American identity and society. This new home is the culmination of the efforts made by co-founder John Kuo Wei Tchen, an outstanding staff, Board of Trustees, and the faithful support of a host of public and private funders, individual donors and angels."

The New MOCA

Designed by renowned artist/designer Maya Lin, MOCA’s new home is a 14, 000 square foot space featuring multiple exhibition galleries, interactive visitor kiosks, a multi-purpose auditorium/classroom, a research center, and a flexible space for various multidisciplinary public programs. MOCA is on its way to achieving LEED SILVER certification – incorporating environmentally sustainable design solutions throughout the museum.

The design juxtaposes the past with the present while creating new spaces that redefine the identity of the building. At the heart of the museum is its historic skylit courtyard, left deliberately raw and untouched, that harkens back to the memory of a Chinese courtyard house or of the past. Each room of the core exhibition wraps around this courtyard and short biographic films are projected onto the glass windows facing the courtyard to give a glimpse of the stories and faces of Chinese Americans through history – from the 1850s to the present day.

Located just inside the main entrance, The Journey Wall, comprised of individual bronze tiles, highlights the Chinese American diaspora, and links places of origin with the current homes of Chinese American families throughout the fifty states. The Journey Wall offers individuals a chance to contribute to MOCA as well as help share personal journeys that describe the larger diaspora of Chinese Americans throughout the United States.

"MOCA’s new space and its Journey Wall focus attention on individuals and families of Chinese heritage who have made their homes throughout the country, and are very much a part of the fabric of this nation. The space was designed to show the dynamic presentation of the Chinese American story, as an integral part of the greater, and continually evolving, American story, " said Ms. Lin.

Core Exhibit

Visitors during the summer will be able to access sections of MOCA’s new core exhibition, "With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America." The exhibition was designed by MGMT Design/Matter Practice Architecture with co-curators historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and Cynthia Ai-fen Lee, and is an exploration of the Chinese American experience–from the first steps of early Chinese immigrants on the American frontier, to the dramatic story of a people caught between the power and politics of two nations, to the continuing journey to understand what it means to be Chinese American, and ultimately, America’s own journey as a nation. The entire exhibition will be on full view on Tuesday, September 22, 2009.

"Here and Now: Chinese Artists in New York, " Opens on September 22, 2009 and Runs through Spring 2010

The Museum of Chinese in America presents "Here & Now: Chinese Artists in New York" – its first group show of contemporary artists of Chinese descent. Curated by Zhijian Qian, Here & Now explores the identity category "Chinese American" through the visual language of contemporary art. The exhibition is organized into three, seven-week long chapters–Visual Memories, Crossing Boundaries, and Toward Transculturalism–that reflect a wide range of cultural and ethnic issues that MOCA has been exploring in previous exhibitions, such as the cultural and political relationship between the United States and China, and the desire to synthesize the Chinese tradition with the tradition of modern western art.

About the Museum of Chinese in America

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is a not-for-profit institution founded in 1980 by John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York University’s Associate Professor of History and Director of the A/P/A Studies Program and Charles Lai, MOCA’s Executive Director. MOCA preserves and presents the history, heritage, culture, and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States. Through innovative exhibitions as well as educational and public programs, MOCA promotes dialogue and understanding among people of all cultural backgrounds. MOCA is located at 215 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand Streets) and is one block north of Canal Street.

The Museum will grow beyond its physical walls and launch a new online initiative named, "Digital MOCA, " which will connect and engage audiences locally, regionally and globally through an interactive timeline of Chinese American history, a repository of individual and family histories, web-based versions of gallery exhibitions and downloadable educational resources.

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