Telling Our Own Stories: An Analysis of Asian American Community Museums in the U.S.
In the past few decades, a growing number of museums that focus on Asian American history and experience have emerged across the United States. Founded by community members or organizations, these museums, named “community museums,” challenge dominant cultural narratives and offer spaces for preserving, sharing, and celebrating the diverse experiences and heritage of Asian American communities. This thesis analyzes the role and significance of Asian American community museums in the United States. Through a comprehensive survey of the existing Asian American community museums and in-depth analyses of three case studies, this thesis explores the characteristics of these museums in terms of geographic location, genesis, mission, and function and reveals how Asian American community museums tell the stories of their associated communities through active community engagements and how they serve as places of dialogue, cultural hubs, community centers, and advocates for their communities. The findings of this study may inspire further research and advocacy in support of these institutions and the communities they serve.