Wing Luke Asian Art Museum
The first Smithsonian affiliate in the Northwest, this superb museum chronicles the Asian Pacific American Experience. Among its most poignant exhibits is the Letter Cloud installation: old hotel walls frame tales of aging far away from home. It also offers walking tours of the surrounding International District, including Touch Of Chinatown, which visits the elegant Kobo gallery and Uwajimaya, one of America’s largest Asian grocery and gift stores. Stop into the nearby Panama Hotel, home to a teahouse and the nation’s only intact sentō (Japanese public bathhouse). Lockers and marble baths still stand in the basement, which harbored the belongings of Seattle’s 7,050 Japanese-American residents imprisoned in WWII internment camps—the basis for Jamie Ford’s best-selling novel Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet.
Step Into History at the Wing Luke Museum
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, located in the center of the International District in a building that was once an immigrant hotel, tells the story of the Asian-American immigrant experience. Admission includes a guided walking tour through the museum; the permanent collection includes exhibitions on the history of Seattle’s Chinatown and of Wing Luke, the Seattle City Council member who became the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Pacific Northwest. The Community Portrait Gallery features exhibits on Vietnamese Americans, Indian Americans, Filipino Americans, and the Cambodian Cultural Museum and Killing Fields Memorial. And for those who loved the book “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” you might be interested in taking the official 90-minute Bitter and Sweet Walking Tour around the neighborhood. Even if you’re just passing by, take a look at the window display that’s designed to look like an old-time Chinatown storefront.