Asian Pacific American Center
$4.2 Million raised
Culture Labs Build Communities
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) is a migratory museum of Asian Pacific American history, art and culture. Through the campaign, the center received its largest-ever gift: a $2 million grant from the Ford Foundation. This transformative support enabled the center to launch its experimental strategic plan with innovative programs — culture labs— which elevated the center’s role as a national voice for Asian Pacific Americans.
The center’s creative pop-up culture labs represent a nimble new model for museum experiences that places communities first. The prototype opened in May 2016 in Washington, D.C. CrossLines: A Culture Lab on Intersectionality convened more than 40 artists and scholars, with interactive installations, films and performances that drew nearly 12,000 visitors to explore race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and disability. CrossLines enabled the center to engage the public on themes pertaining not only to the Asian Pacific American community, but to underrepresented communities with whom it intersects, including Latino Americans, African Americans and Native Americans.
Two more culture labs followed. In New York City, CTRL+ALT: A Culture Lab on Imagined Futures featured sci-fi and fantasy artworks, performances and dialogues. In Honolulu, Hawaii, the center presented ‘Ae Kai: A Culture Lab on Convergence. With help from the U.S. State Department, surfers from Cuba (where surfing still is outlawed) participated, demonstrating their resourcefulness in fashioning surfboards from such material as old refrigerator doors.
Through these events, made possible by the Ford Foundation, the center has built a diverse network of creative minds and mentors. They are using this new national platform to connect, find funding for their work and collaborate for the future. Digital culture labs are being developed to extend the project’s reach.
America's Asian Pacific Heritage
In the United States, there are more than 17 million Asian Pacific Americans — a diverse community that has played a vibrant role in the American story. In the next 50 years, nearly one out of every 10 people in America will trace his or her heritage to Asia and the Pacific, a region that covers more than a third of the earth and is home to nearly half of the world’s population, natural life, nations, economies, major faiths and languages.
At the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, we explore America’s past, present and future as a Pacific Rim nation. We develop exhibitions, programs and digital initiatives about Asian Pacific American history, art and culture to inspire creative and critical thinking.
During an era of increasing globalization, the Asian Pacific American experience is the story of our time.
The Smithsonian Campaign is our opportunity to create innovative cultural spaces that showcase America’s Asian Pacific heritage and rethink where and how we discover this important story. We invite you to support this campaign. Please join us on this amazing journey.
- Konrad NgDirector, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Creating a Museum for America’s Global Story
The Smithsonian Campaign will enable us to invest in new technologies and partnerships to develop our presence both online and in-person across the country, producing dynamic exhibitions with interactive experiences and pushing the boundaries of cultural understanding.
Leading a Digital Dialogue
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is reimagining how technology can be used to understand identity, history, art and culture. We will develop a digital cultural laboratory by collaborating with innovative leaders in technology and leveraging the collections of the Smithsonian and Asian Pacific American organizations across the country.
This virtual laboratory will broaden access to Asian Pacific American icons, stories and communities, allowing viewers to follow their curiosity and learn about the Asian Pacific American experience in new ways.
Transforming the Museum Experience
We are building a network of cultural laboratories—creative and experimental “pop-up” gallery spaces—to explore America’s role as a Pacific Rim nation and rediscover what it means to be an American through an Asian Pacific American lens.
We aspire to create cultural spaces in Washington, D.C., and at partner venues across the country to transform the in-person museum experience. In these cultural spaces, we will mount exhibitions, performances, community events and other learning programs that highlight how Asian Pacific Americans reflect the American spirit across history, art and culture.
The Smithsonian in the Asia-Pacific Region
We are developing a research and learning hub in Hawaii about the Asian Pacific American experience, building on the Smithsonian’s long-standing presence in the Pacific. We will partner with local organizations and harness the Smithsonian’s existing cultural and scientific research to forge new connections between the Asia-Pacific region and America.
Our Campaign Priorities
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is reimagining how technology can be used to understand identity, history, art and culture.
A Digital Culture Lab Fund
The development of a digital cultural laboratory requires a total of $1.25 million. Investments of $25,000, $75,000 and $125,000 will allow us to use new technologies and Asian Pacific American history, art and culture to create innovative online content and unique in-person experiences.
A Collaborative Gallery Lab
We seek a total of $1.25 million to develop “pop-up” galleries in Washington, D.C., and across the country. Gifts of $25,000 to $75,000 will fund collaborative programming for these galleries to foster fresh and exciting ways to understand America’s Asian Pacific heritage.
The Smithsonian in the Pacific
We seek $500,000 for the exploration of a significant presence for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Hawai'i. This investment will enable us to establish local partnerships, conduct research and develop programs to unify the Smithsonian’s cross-disciplinary presence in the Pacific.
Innovator Extends Center's Reach
Umang Gupta knows how to navigate uncharted waters. Heralded as a Silicon Valley pioneer, he wrote the first business plan for Oracle in 1981. He was one of the earliest Indian Americans to found a software company and take it public in the United States. He brings this same spirit of innovation to his role as an advisory board member for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and in his investments in the center. “America's Asian immigrants bring such diverse cultures and experience to our country that we need to explore new ways to tell their stories using digital technologies, thereby giving the public greater control to enrich and add to them," says Gupta.
Irene Hirano Inouye
Bridging Cultural Divisions
Irene Hirano Inouye has supported the Smithsonian for years, as a donor, advocate and board volunteer with a passion for bringing together diverse people and bridging cultural divisions. Now as vice chair of the advisory board for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, she looks forward to her next role promoting the understanding of the past, present and future of the Asian Pacific American experience and carrying on the legacy of her late husband, Senator Daniel K. Inouye from Hawai’i. “The Smithsonian is best suited for creating a cultural hub for research and learning in Hawai’i with a 21st-century approach,” said Inouye.
Robert N. Johnson
Ambassador of Goodwill
Robert N. Johnson is a natural ambassador of goodwill involved with domestic and international nonprofit organizations. A chance meeting with an Indiana University alumnus a few years ago and curiosity stimulated his initial gift to the Smithsonian. Since then, he has joined the advisory board for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and serves as chair of the fundraising committee. "Our Smithsonian provides a common conduit of unity for the United States that matters as much today as it will tomorrow," says Johnson.