The Chinese Canadian Museum is getting a $5.18 million boost from the federal government.
The funding, announced Tuesday (May 23), to help with the building and space renewal at its new, permanent location at the historic Wing Sang Building at 51 East Pender St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s set to open its doors July 1.
Museum CEO Dr. Melissa Karmen Lee said the funding, which is through the economic development agency PacifiCan, will help the museum in 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 renewal project is a three-phase multi-year project focused on revitalizing and upgrading the 21,000-sq.-ft. building, as well as expanding the amount of exhibition and programming space for future permanent and temporary displays.
“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,” notes a release.
As the country’s first Chinese Canadian Museum, it 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 grand-opening exhibition, “The Paper Train to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act,” is curated by Catherine Clement. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which documents the challenging times and resilience of early Chinese migrants in a “period of excessive red tape and discrimination, as well as the legacies and lessons learned from their sacrifices.”
Museum board chair Grace Wong said the $5.18 million enables them to continue building a provincial museum with a 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.”
This comes on the heels of the province announced $2.2 million May 12 to revitalize Vancouver Chinatown. The funding was provided to the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation for the restoration of storefronts and historic neon signs, and lighting upgrades for Chinatown businesses, as well as infrastructure upgrades to the Chinese Cultural Centre.
Foundation chair Carol Lee said Chinatown is more than just a neighbourhood.
“It symbolizes the city’s resilience, perseverance and pride.”