For Immediate Release
Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum Launches National Effort to Support the Creation of a Landmark Museum on the National Mall
Former Secretaries Elaine Chao and Gary Locke team with non-profit group to promote awareness and fund official report to Congress and the President from newly-authorized commission
September 22, 2022

The Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum today launched as a not-for-profit organization to mobilize support across the United States for a permanent Smithsonian national museum dedicated to the vast contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to building and strengthening our nation. This living, contemporary museum will be a landmark place on Washington’s National Mall for all Americans to learn and to be inspired by the many ways – industrial, cultural, artistic, technological – that Asian Pacific Americans have helped weave and strengthen the fabric of these United States.

In June, President Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation, approved unanimously by both the U.S. House and Senate, that advances the effort to build a first-of-its-kind national museum dedicated to Asian Pacific American history and culture. The museum, which President Biden said was “long overdue,” calls for the establishment of a commission (“Commission”) to draft a report and a plan of action to build, support and maintain the museum. The museum, envisioned as part of the Smithsonian, must still obtain Congressional authorization, a complex process subject to hearings and debate by lawmakers. The Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum was created to educate the public and policy makers about the critical need for the museum and to raise necessary funds for, and to support, the Commission’s work and the continuous activities necessary for the museum’s creation.

“The mission to acquaint all Americans with the contributions of Asian American & Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders to our nation is more important than ever,” said Secretary Elaine Chao, who has served in two Presidential cabinet positions, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Labor, and is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President’s cabinet. “Our community has won Nobel prizes in the sciences and the arts, flown into outer space, designed some of our country’s most acclaimed public buildings and formed cutting-edge technology companies. The historic effort to establish and develop the National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture will play a key role in making all of these milestones known to mainstream America and help America celebrate the many contributions that our community has made to the nation.”

“Asian Pacific American stories are the stories of all Americans. It’s important for the American people to understand our sacrifices, our struggles, our perseverance and our achievements,” said Secretary Gary Locke, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was the first Asian American governor on the U.S. mainland. “Each of the dozens of distinct APA ethnic and language groups has a rich history that has helped shape the United States. This new museum will allow all Americans to see the commitment of Asian Pacific Americans to building our nation, including trailblazers, laborers, entrepreneurs and veterans.”

“By giving voice and context to our nation’s complex, diverse past, the first National APA Museum will ensure that American history is inclusive and comprehensive,” said Debbie Shon, Chair of the Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum. “This movement brings together the collective resolve and might of our diverse communities who have been rendered invisible and denied their place in American history books and in the American consciousness. Through our efforts we will help build the first national APA museum to share untold stories. Where all Americans see ourselves and each other.”

The Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) pending organization that is working to write the next chapter of the Asian Pacific American story. The organization is independent of and not related to the Smithsonian Institution and the Commission. However, it is proud to champion their work guided by a vision of creating a permanent Asian Pacific American museum, worthy of the Smithsonian Institution, with world-class exhibits, immersive programming, and innovative and engaging digital experiences that reach every person, home, school and community in the world. With a mission to support the establishment of this dynamic new museum, the organization is working to first raise an initial $5 million to fund the Commission’s report to Congress and the President. However, Congress prohibited the use of any federal funds to pay for its costs.

If authorized by Congress, the National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture would join existing Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, which is currently home to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Additionally, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino has been authorized and is proposed for construction on the Mall.


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