The only museum in the U.S. devoted to the Asian Pacific American experience provides a sophisticated and often somber look at how immigrants and their descendants have transformed (and been transformed by) American culture. The evolution of the museum has been driven by community participation—the museum's library has an oral history lab, and many of the rotating exhibits are focused around stories from longtime residents and their descendants. Museum admission includes a guided walk and talk tour through the East Kong Yick building, where scores of immigrant workers from China, Japan, and the Philippines first found refuge in Seattle.
The museum includes re-creations of typical early-20th-century one-room apartments, a communal kitchen, and the Yick Fung Company store.
The George Tsutakawa Art Gallery presents group shows of established and up-and-coming Asian-Pacific-American artists.
The museum offers three tours. The "Museum Experience"
includes the current exhibits and the 1910 Historic Hotel and Yick Fung Company buildings. The second, "Touch of Chinatown," is a 90-minute guided stroll around the I.D. The "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Tour" (based on the bestselling book by Jamie Ford) includes walks in the area and lasts 90 minutes, every Saturday at 1. Tickets are $17.95 and include admission to the museum.
The museum is a great place to start your tour of the I.D., as it will provide a context to the neighborhood and the communities living here that you won't get by simply wandering around.
Parts of the historic building can only be visited on the Museum Experience tour.
Note that in addition to participating in First Thursdays, the museum is also free on the third Saturday of each month. The museum is open until 8 pm both days.
Be sure to check out what's going on in the Tateuchi Story Theater. The museum has long supported Asian-American playwrights, musicians, and artists, and its cultural offerings keep getting better. Shows range from concerts of traditional instruments to avant-garde theater to documentary film screenings. Third Saturdays are Family Days, offering free events and children's crafts from 1–3 pm.