To connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences.
Our Namesake - Wing Luke
A Chinese American boy dreaded going to school. He was tired of being bullied for being different, for being Asian. One day, he decided he couldn’t put up with it anymore. He had to stand up to them, to fight back somehow. So he decided to try his pen – and he drew funny comic strips. Before long, his classmates wanted to read them, and he became popular, eventually elected class president at Roosevelt High School in Seattle.
This boy was Wing Luke.
Son of a laundryman and grocer and an immigrant from China, Wing Luke went on to become one of nine high school students to consult for a White House conference on youth issues, earn a Bronze Star Medal for his Army service during WWII, receive a law degree from the University of Washington, and be appointed Assistant Attorney General for Washington State.
In 1962, Wing Luke made history, elected as the first person of color on the Seattle City Council and the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest. His unique combination of politics, compassion and advocacy of diverse communities made him a powerful force for equal housing, urban revival and historic preservation of Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and the Seattle Waterfront. Wing was a trailblazer of his time.
In 1965, his promising career was tragically cut short when a small plane he was riding crashed in the Cascade Mountains. He died at the age of forty. Despite the short tenure of his career, Wing inspired many. In his memory, the community created the Wing Luke Memorial Foundation and eventually built a pan-Asian museum based on his vision. The first version of the Museum opened its doors on May 17, 1967 in a humble storefront at 414 8th Ave South in the Chinatown-International District. Several decades later, the Museum continues to be an important place where the Asian Pacific American community looks to for engagement, inspiration and leadership – a legacy that Wing Luke left to Seattle.
A Museum Like No Other
As a National Park Service Affiliated Area and the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers an authentic perspective on a unique version of the American story.
Nationally recognized for our work in creating dynamic, community-driven exhibitions and programs, we put our community at the heart of each exhibition we create. The stories you see and hear within our walls are their authentic experiences and perspectives. From the struggles of early Asian pioneers to accomplished works by national Asian Pacific American artists, their contributions give us a look at what it means to be uniquely American.
Our 60,000 square foot facilities offers three floors to tell our communities’ stories, with contemporary galleries showcasing both temporary and permanent exhibitions as well as preserved historic spaces accessible only through our daily guided tours.
Beyond our walls, we like to tell the story of our neighborhood, Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. While economically challenged, it is a historically and culturally vibrant area, and we see ourselves as a neighborhood concierge and an economic anchor for the nearby small businesses. From restaurants to statues that you might not otherwise notice, there are layers of history and significance that are waiting to be uncovered. The Wing offers guided neighborhood tours and events that will encourage you to discover stories and tastes both on- and off-the-beaten path.