Museum of Chinese in America Reopens this Week Amidst Community Backlash
The Museum of Chinese in America – whose archive at 70 Mulberry Street was destroyed by fire in January 2020 – returns this week from its pandemic-induced closure. Yet, many in the Chinatown community are trying to spoil those plans with a boycott.
The main museum facility is to reopen tomorrow at 215 Centre Street with an exhibit called “Responses: Asian American Voices Resisting the Tides of Racism.” Its aim is to “provide crucial focus on the historical roots of anti-Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander racism from the earliest days of American history,” according to its press release.
Yet, now there are those in the community who accuse the museum of the same. Allegations of complicity in racism and bribery from the city are on the mouths of activists, who claim that the institution “promotes displacement and racism towards the community that it claims to represent.”
The outspoken Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side planned is leading the charge with the boycott. Chinatown magnate Jonathan Chu is in their crosshairs – a landlord with the most holdings in the neighborhood – since he is co-chair of the museum’s board.
“The coalition demands the Chu’s to reopen the Jing Fong dining room and to return the $35 million [for the Chinatown jail] so it can fund the recovery of workers and small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic,” their mailer reads.
It goes further. Two artists in the Museum of Chinese in America installation – Colin Chin and Nicholas Liem – withdrew their work in response to said allegations.