Waves of Identity: Chronicling the Chinese American Experience from 1980s to Present

This collection is ongoing and serves as the museum's catchall for oral histories that don't fit into specific projects. The interviews in this collection range from 1980 to the present. The subject matter varies from Chinatown residents recounting their childhood in the neighborhood, to others telling the circumstances that led to their immigration to the US. The interviewees span across a multitude of cultural, and economic backgrounds ranging from garment and restaurant workers to scholars and war veterans and even movie directors. Each interview adds a unique facet into understanding the Chinese American experience.

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2021.022.002-3 Interview with Jack Tchen September 5, 2012

Jack Tchen along with Charlie Lai are founders of the Chinatown History Project, which has gone on to become the Museum of Chinese in America. In this multiple part interview Tchen discusses growing up in Wisconsin and his family’s ties to China. He then recounts his time at Madison college and how he got more involved in activism and Asian American studies. Next he discusses his time working at Basement workshop, how he met Charlie and working on exhibitions. He left Basement workshop with Charlie and they created the eight pound livelihood exhibition. After, Tchen left the Chinatown history project he started teaching at Queen college and NYU and started the Asian Studies program at NYU. Over the years Tchen often went back to help MOCA especially when the museum expanded and created the core exhibition. He discusses his personal life and his family, the interview ends with a discussion of the challenges of change in museums and MOCA.