A Museum celebrating Chinese American heritage sitting in the original Chinatown, in Downtown Los Angeles.
From the Chinese American Museum’s Website:
Symbolically housed in the oldest and last surviving structure of Los Angeles’ original Chinatown, the 7,200 square foot Chinese American Museum (CAM) embodies both a cultural and physical link to the past and a promising point of entry for the city’s multicultural future. Opened on December 18, 2003 after 20 years of dedicated community and civic leadership and support, CAM’s presence at El Pueblo de Historical Monument– a 44-acre public park honored as the city’s “birthplace” as well as the site of original Chinatown– heralds a rebirth of an important city architecture and reflects the vibrant development of an immigrant history that began over 150 years ago in America, specifically when the first major Chinese settlement was documented in Los Angeles in the 1860s.
The Museum itself is a old Brick Townhouse, and in itself isn’t that large. It’s got two levels and a mezzanine (which was closed the last time I visited), and like the website says, it’s kinda tiny. Turns out, it’s only been open nine years. It houses a small exhibit on the history of the Chinese in Los Angeles, kinda like my Timeline, only you know…better and more realized. There is also a replica of the Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop, which was according to the Museum’s website, the actual store that was housed in the Building from 1891 until 1948.
As of the writing of this piece, they’re holding an exhibit on Chinese Architects, and the influence they’ve had on the development on the city. But there is more stuff coming. I look at this place as a first draft. One hopes that what’s here is only the beginning.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: The facility itself is only 7200 square feet, so its not that large. But it’s worth a visit, and at only three bucks suggested donation per visit, it’s definitely worth your support.
Remember, the Japanese American National Museum started off small as well, eventually expanding into its new facility in Little Tokyo. With a few more visits from people like us, I think the same future can be in store for the Chinese American Museum, because Lord knows, they’ve got the material to support a bigger museum.
Also, bear in mind, you are surrounded by fine, fine Mexican food at El Pueblo De Los Angeles, but after visiting this place, you might find yourself in the mood for some Chinese Cooking. Good thing then that you’re in walking distance from Chinatown. The Empress Pavilion (and Phillipe’s) are a little far away, but easily doable.
PARKING: There is plenty of Public Parking available around El Pueblo De Los Angeles, but it’ll cost ya. Now, my last visit was during Cinco De Mayo, so I thought they were jacking up the prices for that holiday, but it looks like from El Pueblo de Los Angeles’s website that that was the standard rate for where I was (Lot 3). Sigh.
Anyway, before going consult the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Parking Guide (we’ve now got one), including this graphic:
Also, I’ve managed to snag a map of Olvera Street itself, in case you need it.
Chinese American Museum
425 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 3pm.
Closed on Mondays and the following holidays:
Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day