The Wing

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At The Wing

Stage 1: All Volunteer-Run

The Wing's first location was a half-storefront.
 
Our beginning came from a simple pair of Chinese shoes. Although they went of out of style in the early 1900s, they had been carried on the Wah Young Company’s inventory for more than 50 years. This sudden, unexpected discovery and glimpse into the past reminded Wing Luke – a Chinese immigrant, elected to Seattle City Council in 1962, and the first Asian Pacific American elected official in the Pacific Northwest – of how rapidly life was changing for Chinese Americans and sparked the idea of a museum in our community. His vision was realized in 1967 with the Museum’s grand opening in a small storefront at 414 8th Avenue South in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.







Stage 2: First Professional Staff

The Wing's second location was a renovated garage.
 
Museum leaders eventually hired its first professional staff. Peg Marshall served as the first director beginning in 1970. In 1983, The Wing hired director Kit Freudenberg, who held degrees in Museum Studies and American History and ushered in an era of “professionalism.” In 1987, The Wing moved to a rehabilitated garage at 407 7th Avenue South, just one block from its first site.












Stage 3: Growth of Community-Based Exhibit

Community members celebrate the opening of "Executive Order 9066" created directly by them.
 
Within its next home, how would the Museum grow? 1991 brought hiring of the Museum’s first Asian Pacific American director Ron Chew and a marked shift in institutional direction from Asian folk arts and crafts to the experience of Asians in the United States.

The first exhibit was Executive Order 9066: 50 Years Before and 50 Years After, chronicling the story of Japanese American citizens and legal resident aliens of Japanese ancestry forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. Led by three co-coordinators Harry Fujita, Michelle Kumata and Sally Yamasaki – all from Seattle’s Japanese American community – they mobilized a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) of nearly 30 individuals, who met for just under a year and contributed personal and family mementos for the exhibit.

Stage 4: Sustained Empowerment

The Wing currently occupies this entire building, across the street from its original location.
 
  The Wing moved into its current location at 719 South King Street in 2008. Armed with the strength of community members who had been intensively creating at and engaging with the Museum for nearly 20 years, the move reflected extraordinary growth in the life of the Museum and the Asian Pacific American community itself. In the broader arts, culture and heritage landscape, community members have built The Wing to organize together, broadcast their voice, and effect change.
STEP INTO A UNIQUELY AMERICAN STORY


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