Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Detroit Chinatown Exhibit Opens


DETROIT – Friends of Detroit’s Chinatown will open its new exhibit Detroit’s Chinatown: Works in Progress on Saturday, April 4 at the Detroit Historical Museum. This three-month exhibit, sponsored by Wayne State University, reveals the untold stories of Chinatown residents and the current presence of metro Detroit’s Chinese American population.

The Detroit’s Chinatown exhibit uses stunning photography, artifacts, and personal interviews of former Chinatown residents to illustrate the contributions of this lost cultural area. Local artifacts, including grocery scales from the 1800s, a silk dress purchased from a Chinatown business, original paraphernalia from Chin Tiki, a Polynesian-style restaurant and club, and images from previous Chinese New Year celebrations, reflect the experiences of Chinatown residents and visitors.

“I’m really excited to provide the opportunity for visitors to come and view the Detroit’s Chinatown exhibit, because the Asian American presence in and contribution to the city of Detroit have not been highlighted in our public institutions until this point,” said Chelsea Zuzindlak, the exhibit’s curator.

Detroit’s Chinatown began when Chinese laundrymen first settled in the city at Third Ave. and Porter St. in 1872. A new wave of immigrants led by five Chinese families opened restaurants, groceries, and a Chinese school between 1910 and the late 1950s. In 1963, Chinatown relocated to Cass Ave. and Peterboro St., where it experienced some success before political and social changes led to its demise in 1987.

In-depth interviews of three Chinatown residents give visitors to the exhibit an intimate glimpse into the old neighborhood’s history and culture. Visitors will also discover the complex factors leading to the disappearance of Chinatown, future preservation plans for Chinatown artifacts, and the recent reappearance of Asian businesses in local suburbs.

Detroit’s Chinatown: Work in Progress, presented in English and standard Mandarin Chinese, is open through Sunday, July 5 in the Museum’s Community Gallery, presented by Comerica.

The Detroit Historical Museum, located at 5401 Woodward Ave. (NW corner of Kirby) in Detroit’s Cultural Center area, is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the Museum is not open to the public but available for group tours by calling (313) 833-7979. Adult admission is $6. Seniors (60+), college students with valid college ID, and youth ages 5-18 pay $4. Admission for children ages four and under is free. Parking in the Museum’s lot is $4 at all times. Permanent exhibits include the famous Streets of Old Detroit; Frontiers to Factories; The Motor City; and The Glancy Trains. New exhibits include Detroit’s Classic TV Personalities; Hero or Villain? Metro Detroit’s Legacy of Leadership; 1920s: Detroit’s Building Boom; 100 Years Ago; and Automotive Showplace, spotlighting the Model T Centennial. For more information, call the Museum at (313) 833-1805 or check out our website at