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Part 2: Using Collections to Think About Immigration with the Smithsonian Learning Lab

In Part 1 of our Smithsonian Learning Lab series we took you to the Tsongas Industrial History Center at the Lowell National Historical Park, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Lowell, Massachusetts, where teachers were exploring the question “Who belongs?” (You can read the full blog here.) This time we’re headed to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, another Smithsonian Affiliate in Seattle, Washington, to explore immigration through the lens of Chinese immigrants.

Wing Luke Learning Lab title pageIn his blog Beneath the Text: Analyzing Letters from Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, Rahul Gupta, education and tours director at The Wing, developed his first Learning Lab gallery using the museum’s collection of letters to to discuss three areas of immigration– “push” and “pull” factors that bring immigrants to the country or that reject their presence, and the letters’ style, writing and format.

I am often amazed at what I learn at this job every single day—and this project opened my understanding of the personal impact of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, gender relationships, and changing gender roles—and more and more. There are brilliant gems within our museum collection, and I am restlessly waiting to place more of these archives and artifacts into the hands of teachers and students around the country.

Read his blog and view his Learning Lab collection here.

The Teacher Creativity Studio program received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

If you are interested in learning more about the Smithsonian Learning Lab and how it could help your museum support teachers and students in your community, contact your National Outreach Manager.

Wing Luke Museum and Kona Historical Society: 10 Years in Association with the Smithsonian

2011 is a big year for organizations–20 at the latest count–celebrating their 10th anniversary as Smithsonian Affiliates.  To honor these Affiliates we’ll be blogging monthly about each one as they reach this milestone. 

Two unique Smithsonian Affiliates celebrated 10 years of collaborating with the Smithsonian in February- Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA) and Kona Historical Society (Captain Cook, HI). 

Pictured: Joshua Heim, Exhibits Developer and King Lau, Youth Participant, of the Wing Luke Asian Museum YouthCAN program with Michelle Obama. Courtesy IMLS.

Seattle, Washington, is home to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, better known as “The Wing,” the nation’s only museum devoted to the Asian Pacific American experience. Active participants in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day each year, The Wing has also included programming from The Smithsonian Associates and brought Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibitions to their community. Recently, during a White House ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama honored The Wing’s YouthCAN after school program with a prestigious national award for its impact in engaging young people in the arts and humanities.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm, courtesy Kona Historical Society.

Did you know the Smithsonian has Affiliates in Hawaii? The Kona Historical Society in Captain Cook, Hawaii, also celebrates its 10th anniversary in February. The society maintains two historic sites and the Jean Greenwell Archives, which boasts the largest photograph collection on the Big Island; over 140 maps; many rare and out-of-print books; historical records including manuscripts, pamphlets and oral history interviews; and films and videotapes of Kona. The Society is in the process of raising $1.5 million over the next three years to expand the Kona Coffee Living History Farm which will create a permanent exhibition space for “The Kona Coffee Story:  Along the Hawai’I Belt Road,” an award winning exhibition created in a partnership which included the Japanese American National Museum (another Smithsonian Affiliate) and which was donated to the Kona Historical Society.

So, Happy 10th anniversary to The Wing and Kona Historical Society! And here’s to many more years of collaboration.