Los Altos to Host Smithsonian Exhibition on Asian Pacific American Experience

By August 21, 2017Press Releases

Los Altos, CA August 21, 2017 The Los Altos History Museum is proud to announce its upcoming exhibition: “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story”, created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation with additional local sponsorship by the Los Altos Community Foundation (LACF).

It is given a local focus by artifacts and photographs from the collection of the Los Altos History Museum and loans from community members. The exhibition focuses on the deep connection between the Asian Pacific community and the land, focusing on agriculture and foodways as well as the history of immigration. The exhibition runs from October 19, 2017 through January 7, 2018 in the Main Gallery.

“The Los Altos Community Foundation is proud to support this exhibit, which will foster local awareness of the historical contributions of Asian Pacific Americans in building of our community and the role the Asian Heritage of many of our neighbors and friends plays in making our community such a wonderful and vibrant place to live,” observed Joe Eyre, Executive Director of LACF.

Co-President of the Board of Directors for the Los Altos History Museum, Eleanor Watanabe, has assembled a team of exhibition program advisors that includes, Margaret Abe, King Lit Ching, Rowena Chow, Belinda Chung, Kristen Fuller, Jane Reed, Antonia Tu, and Connie Young Yu.

The exhibition tells the rich and complex stories of the first Asian laborers arriving along the Gulf and Eastern American seaboards throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. From there, it tells stories of Asian immigrants finding homes and participating in key moments of US history. Asian immigrants were miners and business people during the California Gold Rush, hammered the ties in the Transcontinental Railroad, fought on both sides of the Civil War and helped build the nation’s agricultural system as they farmed plantations in Hawaii and California.

Paired with artifacts from the History Museum’s Collection and from community members, a special focus of the exhibition in Los Altos will be the vital role played by Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the agricultural revolution of the area, from the planting of apricots to the creation of gardens and nurseries.

The exhibition also touches on difficult issues. Through the decades, Asian immigrants struggled against legal exclusion and prejudice, culminating in unlawful detention during World War II. Since the 1960s, vibrant new Pan-Asian, Pacific Islander communities have fought for civil rights that have expanded American freedoms.

“We are excited that this exhibition, curated by experts from the Smithsonian, will be coming to Los Altos, and we look forward to presenting the local dimension to this national narrative,” commented Dr. Elisabeth I. Ward, Executive Director of the Los Altos History Museum. “We have some artifacts in our collection that are exceptional to supporting this exhibit – that have rarely been on display.”

A rich set of programming will add dimension to the exhibition and includes the following programs:

  • The Asian Pacific American Experience
  • Coming to America
  • Immigration and Civil Rights
  • Hope and Opportunity
  • Technology Entrepreneurs and Mentors

The public opening reception will be held at the Museum, Sunday, October 22nd, from 1-4pm, featuring the San Jose Taiko.

The Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collectionspermanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, go to: www.losaltoshistory.org, email hello@losaltoshistory.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact: Marketing@losaltoshistory.org

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, eward@losaltoshistory.org