Visiting the MOCA – Museum of Chinese in America

Today I was at MOCA – the Museum of Chinese in America with Ella. Initially, we walked right past it, it did not have an outstanding entrance such as other museums in New York. The MOCA reminded me of a Chinese restaurant when I was looking on it from outside.


Entering the museum was a big relief, we finally found a shelter from the unbearable heat outside, it was cooled and dark. The receptionists greeted us and it felt very welcoming. The restrooms were easy to find and where our first stop at the museum. At first sight, the museum felt very spacious, but the exhibition rooms were like a continuous hallway full with objects and pictures. Ironically, it was empty from visitors. The large majority of who did visit MOCA were Asians.




I was traveling in china a few years ago and got exposed to the chines culture. The story that is being told by this museum felt detached from everything that seemed familiar. Westernization – is the one word to describe it.

One thing that immediately drawn my attention was the poster to the film Sayonara that reminded me Gone with the wind.


From right to left “Gone with the wind” poster and the poster Sayonara that lives at the MOCA

Across the permanent exhibition, videos were projecting and voiced over. It was mainly male voices telling their stories with a Chines accent. One of them was describing the dissonance that I felt, he said that his parents forbidden him from speaking Chines he was allowed to speak only English.

There was only one room that made me feel I am seeing familiar Chines element – the Herbalist station that looked like a small store. It had a pastoral Chines music that was calming for my ears after hearing the overlapping voices, trying to tell their story.




From right to left, Warhol’s Campbell soup and the tin cans in the herbal room

but even there I found hints that reminded me a lot of the American culture that they became part of. On the upper shelf, I saw food cans that reminded me of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans.

On the one hand, it seemed as if the American Chines designed to their culture in order to become part of the new world that they arrived to but on the other hand they were still trying to reserve some elements from their culture.

I believe that a gift shop sais a lot about its museum:


The museum website was not very appealing and inviting, it had a lot of text and not a lot of pictures.

Categories: Cabinets of Wonder

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