Why Now?

“Consideration of new museums advanced only when engaged, well-organized private citizens and entities expressed sustained interest and concern to public officials.”

Congressional Research Service, Smithsonian Institution: Background, Issues for Congress, and Selected Legislation, November 4, 2021

The Vision

Through its dedicated work to attain Congressional authorization and the creation of a National Asian Pacific American Museum on the National Mall, the Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum seeks to ensure that the disaggregated stories, histories, and cultures of Asian Pacific American peoples are preserved, illuminated, and appreciated as quintessentially American.

The Need

The lived experiences and history of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs)* are America's history.

Yet, at the Smithsonian, the keeper and steward of America's history and culture, there is no museum nor even a permanent exhibition dedicated to Asian Pacific American history and culture. 

Despite being the third-largest racial group in America, Asian Pacific Americans are overlooked and invisible in the Smithsonian's national museum system — and in American society as a whole.  This invisibility must stop.

* The Smithsonian and the U.S. Congress in its legislation uses “APA” / “Asian Pacific Americans.” APA / Asian Pacific American is referred by different organizations as AAPI / Asian American Pacific Islander and also AA&NHPI / Asian American and Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander.

Our Approach

The Congressional authorization process of a National Smithsonian Museum is challenging, complex, and has formally commenced.

Congressional Bill H.R. 3525 to set up a commission to draft the Congressional report on the establishment of the National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture (the “Commission”) was signed into law in June 2022. This is the first step in a long and arduous process; however, “consideration of new museums advanced only when engaged, well-organized private citizens and entities expressed sustained interest and concern to public officials.” **

Hence, the core mission of Friends of the National Asian Pacific American Museum (“FRIENDS”) is crystal clear: to champion, create awareness, mobilize support, orchestrate collective efforts involving both individuals and organizations, and strategically communicate with decision-makers. All of this is aimed at one singular goal — making the National Asian Pacific American Museum (the “Museum”) a reality. A forepart of FRIENDS‘ endeavors is the crucial task of facilitating and providing support to the bipartisan, eight-member Commission.

FRIENDS is also developing innovative concepts and operations for a forward-looking Museum that resonates with young and future generations, and importantly will alleviate issues and concerns raised by Congress.*** Additionally, FRIENDS is a crucial bridge to the Asian Pacific American communities, establishing a platform to methodically assemble the disaggregated input and priorities from the many sub-communities to shape and inform the work of the Commission, ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive representation of their American histories.****

**Congressional Research Service, Smithsonian Institution: Background, Issues for Congress, and Selected Legislation, November 4, 2021, p.7

*** We believe that a compelling Report needs to (1) highlight the disaggregated histories of the many sub-groups of the Asian Pacific American community properly and comprehensively, and (2) exhibit them in an innovative manner utilizing AI-driven, VR/XR meta-immersive exhibitions. This approach responds to the concerns of the APA communities, and will attract and captivate visitors and also serve as a cornerstone in the Museum's financial sustainability, which is the main concern of Congress. It ensures that the Museum will not merely be an artifact-focused institution of the past, but blue-printed into a dynamic and forward-looking museum for the future.

**** The Task Force on Asian Pacific American History and Culture Initiative, currently with 31 member organizations and 18 academics on its Steering Committee.

The Challenges

The next three years are pivotal to the Museum’s authorization to become reality. Two immediate challenges must be met:
  1. Delivery of a compelling report to Congress that should justify the Museum's creation and lay the groundwork for its Congressional authorization and blueprint for its creation. The Commission must meticulously research, consider, and compose the report to Congress and the President (the “Report”). the Report will assess the feasibility and address Congressional concerns of the building and operation of the museum, and form the basis of Congressional consideration and debate for authorization.
  2. Creation and coordination of public support and targeted advocacy to convince decision-makers and Congress that the Museum is vital and consequential. Generating momentum and sustaining these broad efforts are essential to create a groundswell of support and endorsement from the general public, key constituencies, and within Congress, all of which are crucial for attaining authorization.

It is worth noting that Congress has prohibited federal funding for the Commission. Hence, funds must be privately raised for the Commission to pay for its costs to hire consultants, experts, and staff to craft a comprehensive and compelling Report. Fundraising is also essential to execute well-organized and effective programs of public awareness and targeted support. This work must commence immediately and be continued after the Report’s submission to Congress — and sustained until its authorization is won.

The Work

The Commission, which will retain museum experts and consultants, must gather data, research, compose, and deliver the Report. FRIENDS is here to assist.

The Report must powerfully convince Congress that the Museum is vital, reflect the desire of the public and needs of the APA communities, and demonstrate financial sustainability — from budget, construction, operations, governance, collections, curatorial direction, exhibition programs, design, and attendance. Once authorized by Congress, the Report will serve as a blue-print for the Museum's creation and construction.

However, even with a compelling Report, securing Congressional authorization necessitates sustained efforts to build a groundswell of public support and to garner the backing of local, state, and national elected officials and lawmakers. FRIENDS will coordinate and lead a broad-based and targeted campaign enlisting organizational allies to amplify voices and impress upon elected officials the importance of the Museum and the insistence of their constituents.

FRIENDS will help fundraise for the Commission, and other FRIENDS’ programs will offer assistance to the Commission, including providing data, reports, programs, and concepts to facilitate and inform the Commission in its work drafting the Report.