A visit to the Wing Luke Museum

On Saturday, Micah and I, along with our friends Vann and Naomi took a trip over to the International District in Seattle to go to the Wing Luke Museum.  None of us had gone before and we took advantage of the free admission (1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month).  This museum is dedicated to the Asian Pacific American Experience – and connecting people to the “rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences.”

The building itself is quite stunning with amazing architecture and beautiful décor.  It really is a gem in the heart of what you typically think of dirty, grungy Chinatown/International District. 

The main purpose for our visit was it was the last day of a special exhibit at the museum focused on the experience of Asian American adoptees.  It was a small gallery filled with artwork, video, poems, etc.  Interestingly, most of the submissions were from Korean adoptees.  Naomi and I, (both being adopted from Korea when we were little), found so many of the stories and illustrative quotes found in the exhibit to be so incredibly exacting to how we feel about our own experience.  There were a couple of quotes that I  thought, “That’s me. I’ve literally said that same thing before.” 

When you are adopted, it’s something that’s basically forced into your identity – for good or for other.  It’s something that is a part of you and shapes how others view you and how you view others and the world.  I honestly haven’t had much interest in the subject for most my life, but with having made friends who are adopted (from Korea nonetheless), I was intrigued to go visit the museum.  That’s one thing about being adopted…it’s something that’s hard to really get unless you’ve been through it.

For me, what I felt I related to most was less about the idea of actually being adopted, but more about relating to the experiences the adoptees went through because of it.  For example, when people learn I’m adopted, it’s quite normal and almost always expected that they’ll ask me if  I have found my birth parents.  That’s not a question most people get asked in their lifetime, but for adoptees it’s like a script.  And when I say “no” – that’s never sufficient enough of an answer.  I then have to go in and justify that response.  It’s such a basic question – but nonetheless, a question that reinforces ideas and beliefs about being adopted.

There were several other stories that told of adoptee experiences that I just laughed at because of how accurate it reflected my thoughts and feelings.  I often have faced issues on being Korean and not wanting to be, or adjusting to how Korean I wanted or should be.  It can be quite perplexing to find that balance – and even then, it’s constantly changing (at least for me it is).

It was also really nice to have Micah go through the gallery as well.  Although he knows already all about my adoptee experience, it’s nice to just have him hear that through someone else.  Without saying the words myself, it was as if I was telling Micah, “See…I’m not the only one who feels that way.”  And similarly, as I was going through the exhibit, I was saying that same thing to myself.  Smile

There were other really interesting exhibits going on in the museum.  All tackling different areas of Asian Pacific American culture and life. 

I’d highly recommend a visit – the space is cool, there’s lots to walk through, and a cute gift shop to boot.  Plus, once you’re done, there’s an endless number of amazing restaurants and shops to eat at!

1 Response to “A visit to the Wing Luke Museum”

  1. 1 Sarah June 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Lisa-

    What a wonderful post! I was directed to your blog by a staff member of the Wing Luke Museum who most likely came across this post from a Google Alert for the museum’s name. =) There were several adoptees, including me, who were part of the Community Advisory Committee that helped shape the adoptee exhibit. One of our biggest hopes in creating the exhibit was that it would help validate the experiences of other Asian adoptees, and I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it. There is a local group in Seattle called Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (http://www.aaawashington.org), and we have monthly dinners and host a variety of other events (social, educational, etc.). We’d love to have you join us sometime if you’re interested!

    ~Sarah Kim Randolph

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