(Vancouver, BC, May 23, 2023) — The Chinese Canadian Museum has received $5,179,000 from the Government of Canada in support of its building and space renewal at its new permanent location. The museum, located at the historic Wing Sang Building in Vancouver’s Chinatown, is preparing to open its doors to the public on July 1st.
“We thank the Government of Canada for this funding at a pivotal juncture in the Chinese Canadian Museum’s development,” said Dr. Melissa Karmen Lee, CEO of the Chinese Canadian Museum. “The funds will assist the museum with finishing its first renovation phase and exhibition preparations. We are thrilled to open this summer to present historic exhibitions and significant public programs that honour the diverse Chinese Canadian communities across the country.”
The federal funding is provided through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) and will go a long way to the realization of the Chinese Canadian Museum as a world-class museum. These include the development of insightful and compelling exhibitions, public education programs, special events and community engagement initiatives.
Our support for the Chinese Canadian Museum reaffirms the importance of investing in projects that enhance our cultural and civic life by fostering an environment where Canadians can experience dynamic cultural expressions, celebrate Canada’s history and heritage, and build strong communities. This funding assists more than just bricks and mortar and exhibits on display; it creates a gathering space for us to come together to learn about and honour the Chinese community in Canada. We are proud to be a partner in the success of this important project.
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage
The museum’s renewal is a three-phase multi-year project focused on revitalizing and upgrading more than 21,000 square feet of building space including expanding the amount of exhibition and programming space to house future permanent and temporary exhibitions. The renewed Wing Sang Building will feature bright, contemporary interior spaces that will contribute to cultural learning and experiences. The building’s own storied connections to Chinese Canadian history will provide Canadians with meaningful insight into the incredible journeys of many Chinese Canadians and how they relate to modern-day perspectives.
As Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum, the museum will provide a meaningful and transformative experience for all, connecting Canadians to the diverse and eclectic stories and contributions of generations of Chinese Canadians, past and present – with an eye to the future. The Museum’s goal is to foster respect, understanding, inclusion and collaboration, and serve as a place where people can gather to bridge cultures, communities and generations.
The Chinese Canadian Museum’s grand opening national exhibition, The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act, curated by Catherine Clement, opens July 1st, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. The exhibition documents the challenging times and resilience of early Chinese migrants including the vulnerable and the forgotten, in a period of excessive red tape and discrimination, as well as the legacies and lessons learned from their sacrifices.
Our government knows that tourism does not exist without culture. By investing in the Chinese Canadian Museum, we are supporting the creation of an important cultural asset that celebrates the legacy of Chinese Canadians and creates a best-in-class heritage experience that will draw visitors from across the country and around the world. The Museum is the realization of many years of hard work and dedication by the Museum Society, its staff, volunteers, partners, and community supporters. Congratulations on this incredible achievement.
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for PacifiCan
The exhibition is a powerful reminder of this chapter of Canadian history – a history that many Canadians are unaware of – while honouring the many Chinese Canadians who helped build this country.
“This funding provided by the Government of Canada comes at an important time in our collective history,” said Grace Wong, Board Chair of the Chinese Canadian Museum. “It enables us to continue building a provincial museum with national scope that is dedicated to showcasing the history, heritage, contributions, and resilience of generations of Chinese Canadians across B.C. and Canada. We look forward to becoming a vital cultural asset that adds vitality to Vancouver’s Chinatown, stimulating tourism, and fostering cultural inclusion.”
The modern, contemporary, renewed Chinese Canadian Museum will feature:
- A special introduction gallery space that will feature Odysseys and Migration, an exhibition exploring the Chinese diaspora from 1788 to present day.
- A period living room with interactive antique objects that bring visitors back in time to the 1930s when the original owners of the Wing Sang Building, the Yip Sang family lived in Chinatown.
- Chinatown’s oldest school room (est. 1901) with many original elements kept intact — it initially served as a classroom for Yip Sang’s children and children from the community.
- An interactive immigration map on which visitors can draw and share the origins and immigration journeys of their families.
- A painted mural by Chinese Canadian artist Marlene Yuen, highlighting Chinese Canadian journeys and experiences past to present.
- A commissioned Indigenous mural art piece by Musqueam artist Susan Point and her son Thomas Cannell to honour the strong connection and the historical ties of the Indigenous peoples and early Chinese workers in Canadian history.
The Chinese Canadian Museum is a not-for-profit charitable organization established in 2020. Since its founding, the museum has presented five featured exhibitions at its two temporary sites in Vancouver and Victoria and offered numerous in-person and online programs to communities across B.C. The museum is governed by an 18-member Board representing a diverse cross-section of professional and community experience.
I’m so happy to be in Vancouver, in the heart of Chinatown, to announce this funding on behalf of the Government of Canada. Being inside the historic Wing Sang Building is not only a portal to the past, but a beacon for the future. The Chinese Canadian Museum is a living testament to the contributions made by our community in building this country, and captures the stories that are symbolic of and resonant with so many families, including my own. Our histories and heritage now have a permanent home – today, tomorrow and in years to come.
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
More details about the Chinese Canadian Museum’s public grand opening exhibit and event will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
About the Chinese Canadian Museum | chinesecanadianmuseum.ca
The Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia was founded in March 2020 to establish and operate a public museum in British Columbia honouring Chinese Canadian history, contributions, and living heritage. Guided by its mission statement “Connecting to the Chinese Canadian story – addressing inclusion for all”, the Chinese Canadian Museum aspires to provide an invigorating and transformative experience for present and future generations through its exhibitions and programming throughout B.C. and Canada.
B.C. is proud of the commitment it made in 2018 to establish Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum.
Our government has provided $48.5 million in direct funding towards establishing this important institution. I’m thrilled to see it will soon be open to the public and recognized as an important part of our provincial cultural landscape. This federal support further emphasizes how the history and significant contributions of Chinese Canadians are not just a vital part of the story of our province, but also our nation.
The Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport for British Columbia
The first of its kind in Canada, the Chinese Canadian Museum is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and will open to the public on July 1, 2023.