This Spring, Visit These Can’t-Miss Exhibits Showcasing Asian American Culture

Explore Asian American art, history, and culture at these engaging exhibits.

Two tables with art sculptures on them, in front of artfully hanging thread

This May, learn about Asian American artists at places like the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Photo by Jeff McLane/ICA LA

Through May and beyond, museums across the country are bringing Asian American stories to the forefront. These museums are highlighting the far-reaching impact Asian Americans have made on the arts, science, history, and culture of the United States, in addition to showcasing emerging figures that are influencing the future today.

This Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, check out these four exhibits and learn about the wide-ranging unique perspectives and history of Asian Americans.

Scratching at the Moon

Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

  • Where: Los Angeles, California
  • Dates: February 10–July 28, 2024
  • Hours: Wednesdays and Fridays 12–6 p.m.; Thursdays 12–7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 11–6 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Scratching at the Moon pulls together the works of 13 creatives in an exhibit that is the first focused survey of Asian American artists in a major Los Angeles contemporary art museum. Inspired by the community response in support of Black lives and against attacks on Asian American violence in 2020, artist Anna Sew Hoy curated the exhibit, which touches on topics such as structural and environmental racism, immigration, cultural assimilation, gentrification, and intergenerational teachings. According to the museum, the exhibition “argues that every body is an archive within which generations of experiences across continents and temporalities are held.”

The works featured in Scratching at the Moon range from video and ceramics to photography and sculpture and include artists born in the United States and abroad.

Left: Black-and-white illustrations featured on a wall. Right: A man standing in front of illustrations.

Artist Sammy Yuen’s drawings include one of the Guardian Lion statues in Amboy, California, and the Water Tower in Kingman, Arizona.

Photos by Elizabeth Paniagua

Shared Lines: The AAPI Experience on Route 66

Chinese American Museum of Chicago

  • Where: Chicago, Illinois
  • Dates: April 4–September 28, 2024
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
  • Admission: $8 suggested donation

In 2023, artist Sammy Yuen journeyed across Route 66 to learn about Asian American and Pacific Islander communities along the historic road. While driving through cities and towns like Tulsa in Oklahoma, Flagstaff in Arizona, and Amarillo in Texas, Yuen found a commonality among those who settled along the Mother Road. “What I discovered is that the size of the towns they settle in vary, but the goal is always the same. They shared the desire for a better life and to find the American Dream,” he said.

Shared Lines is a collection of drawings from his time wandering Route 66. With illustrations of sites like the pagoda pavilion at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chicago and the Guardian Lion statues in Amboy, California, Yuen portrays the diversity of places tied to Asian American history.

Framed art on white walls in an exhibit space

Artists featured in the Threads exhibit include Riiisa Boogie, Seung Hyun Choi-Kwok, and Ken Rutsky.

Photo by Tony Iadicicco


Albany Center Gallery

  • Where: Albany, New York
  • Dates: April 30–June 1, 2024
  • Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 12–5 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

In partnership with local celebration AAPI Heritage Month 518, Albany Center Gallery is showcasing local art talent through its exhibit Threads until the beginning of June. According to the gallery, the exhibit “challenges the notion of definition and focuses on the perspectives of AAPI artists and the inherent connection of heritage shared among people.”

Threads presents work from 28 regional artists, including paintings, embroidery installations, and even spray paint.

Left: A building with the sign "The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History." Right: A black-and-white photo of a woman sitting at a table with painted sheets of paper before her.

Isabella Abbott, the first native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in science, is one of the figures being spotlighted at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.

Photos Courtesy of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Asian American Pacific Islander Month Exhibit

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

  • Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Dates: May 1–31, 2024
  • Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily
  • Admission: $17

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was established in 1969 to share the country’s nuclear history and science. To that end, the museum is hosting a banner exhibition from May 1 to May 31 focusing on the scientific impact of Asian Americans. Come and learn about figures like Chien-Shiung Wu, an experimental physicist who is believed to have been the only Chinese person to have worked on the Manhattan Project, and microbiologist and AIDS researcher Yee Ching Wong-Staal.

On May 4, visitors can also join the museum’s festivities at its Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival.

Chloe Arrojado is the associate editor of destinations at AFAR. She’s a big fan of cafés, dancing, and asking people on the street for restaurant recommendations.
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