Rep. Grace Meng proposes a commission to study creation of AAPI museum

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Members of Congress are considering a proposal to determine whether the United States should have its first-ever museum dedicated to the accomplishments, culture and history of the country’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The proposal, introduced by New York Rep. Grace Meng, D-Queens, would establish an eight-member panel; the panel would determine whether the AAPI museum would be a viable venture.

            An AAPI museum, if ultimately established, would be located in Washington, D.C. Meng’s bill, which is officially “Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act,” was introduced on July 31, a little more than two months after the Smithsonian Institute launched its Keystone Initiative. The Keystone Initiative is a campaign launched by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center to establish a permanent arts gallery to recognize the artistic and cultural works of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

            Meng’s legislation would specifically create “an eight member panel – consisting of individuals with various expertise in museum planning or AAPI research and culture – to look into the viability of establishing such a facility in the nation’s capital.”

            The representative from New York City said an AAPI museum is necessary in order to capture the Asian American story and narrative.

            “We need to weave the narrative of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities into the greater American story. I firmly believe the story of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is sorely misunderstood and creating a national museum would ensure that our experiences—both good and bad—are recognized by all Americans,” Meng said. “Museums are gateways for Americans and the world to see the United States’ rich history, challenges it overcame, and potential for greatness. Establishing this commission is the first step toward the creation of a national AAPI museum. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”

            The commission, if established, would be tasked with several directives, such as recommending an action plan to establish and maintain a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.

            Commission members would also be tasked with developing a fundraising plan for the museum establishment, maintenance and operation. Public contributions would also be a part of the museum’s fundraising plan.

        The commission would also determine the availability and costs involved of obtaining collections for the museum, identify where the venue would be built.

            A legislative plan of action would also have to be submitted to Congress, outlining how the cultural venue would be established and constructed.

            Should the museum be a member of the Smithsonian Institute? This question would also be asked and (hopefully) answered by the commission.

            Meng’s bill stated the commission would have 18 months to complete its study.