Curation, Prestige, and Healing Intergenerational Trauma Through Asian American Museums in Greater Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

Can museums have a psychology? Museums can provide an institutional space to psychologically heal intergenerational trauma. In Asian American communities, conversations about trauma are often stigmatized. This paper investigates how museums in the greater Washington area have interpreted Asian-American intergenerational trauma in their exhibitions and the effect they have on the communities they reach. This paper draws on ethnographic research in museums, including participant observation with youth programs at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum, the only pan-Asian history and art museum in the US, and at the Renton History Museum, a regional museum and archive in a Seattle suburb, interviews with curators and advisors, and analysis of exhibition content primarily on Japanese internment in the Pacific Northwest. This paper finds that both Asian American Museums and Regional non-minority museums open difficult conversations on traumatic history of Asian American communities through their exhibitions, which are sometimes crafted by the community themselves, and in the process does work of peace and psychological healing. Further, museums mediate cultural citizenship and provide a space for people of multiple cultures to celebrate and take pride in their diversity. This is particularly true for multicultural youth of “Generation Alpha” for whom conversations about intergenerational trauma in the Asian American community is normalized through Museum programs, crafting new types of belonging that celebrate psychological healing in their diverse cultural identities.

Introduction

Many Asian-Americans are often given inadequate education on their culture, and may only share a negative view of their Asian heritage. This contributes to a fragmented identity that is part of the intergenerational trauma commonly faced by Asian-Americans. Intergenerational trauma is a concept used to express the passing down of generational challenges in families. It has especially been used to describe challenges that immigrant families face in the US, especially for Asian-Americans (APA, Yang, Han). Part of intergenerational trauma in Asian Americans comes from a lack of connection to their parents or ancestors history and culture, and museums have the potential to help heal that intergenerational trauma. There have also been specific historical incidents that have contributed to intergenerational trauma within the Asian American community. A common example is Japanese American Internment, as it has influenced many generations of Asian Americans. Families that have a history with Japanese American internment struggle with communication with each other,“400 Nisei [second generation immigrants] indicated that more than 12% never spoke with their Issei [first generation immigrant]parents about the camps, 50% spoke less than four times, and 70% of those who had any discussions conversed less than 15 minutes” and that in turn “Lower levels of Nisei parents’ incarceration-related communication were associated with Sansei perceiving greater familial distance and lower positive impacts from their parent’s incarceration”1. Japanese American internment has shaped generations of Asian Americans to have a pattern of distance and coldness within their families. 

While there has been research studying the increase in minority based museums and how they impact minority group identities, less research has been done to study the specific affective or psychological effects of minority museums and their impact on healing intergenerational trauma. This research particularly focuses on the museum’s impact on an Asian American community in the PNW. The guiding question for this research asks: How do museums interpret Asian-American intergenerational trauma in Washington State and what are the affective and psychological effects of that interpretation on the communities that these museums serve? 

The crux of this study examines how museums, as primarily public institutions, have affective and psychological implication on the communities they serve. Thus, I provocatively ask, do museums have a psychology? Museums in the greater Seattle area provide a large platform within communities for establishing historical narratives and serve as a connection point for the diversity of Asian American communities in the area. Drawing on museum anthropology and affect theory, museums can be understood as having a profound psychological or affective experience on visitors by shaping their emotions, perceptions, and cognitive experiences in various ways. This includes through the museum’s atmosphere and environment, curatorial choices, narratives, interactive elements in exhibit design, sound and music, social and cultural contextualization, and the impact the museum has on visitors’ sense of time, pace, and reflexivity.2. This study in particular examines different museums in Washington state, as it provides important context to investigate the psychology of museums because it hosts one of the largest Asian art and history museums in the United States and has a long history of being a significant site for institutionalizing Asian American history. This study will enable museums to have a richer understanding of their impact on healing unaddressed trauma in the Asian American community, as well as a better understanding of how to carefully curate exhibits to best address that trauma. 

This study also examines multiculturalism, which is defined as a situation where all aspects of cultural identities are equally valued, as opposed to a dominant culture overtaking one’s cultural identity. Although multiculturalism is often associated with political action, this study focuses less on the integration of multiculturalism into government policies and more on the cultural and social implications of multiculturalism, and how museums support a positive psychological view of having multiple cultural identities to their visitors3

Methods 

I visited all museums in the Seattle area based on Asian American history or art including: Wing-Luke, Renton History Museum, Bainbridge Historical Museum, Kitsap Historical museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum. 

I volunteered at the Renton History Museum as a Museum greeter and the Wing-Luke museum for its summer camp program. In these experiences I participated and observed guests interactions with exhibits and museum staff, camp leaders interactions with students, participated in training for Youth counseling & historical significance of museums, facilitating campers experiences art projects on asian american heritage/identity, origami paper, cut out letters to make a banner of their choice, recess at public city playgrounds in the China Town International District, visiting an exhibit on Guam. 

The Wing-Luke museum is a Smithsonian institution affiliate, and presents itself as a museum that directly focuses on Asian American history. The Renton history museum works in association with the city of Renton’s government, as it is publicly owned, and is a more small-scale museum that focuses on Renton local history, and presents itself as focusing on broader history rather than any specific cultural history. The Wing-Luke museum and Renton History Museum provide a large focus of the paper as they provided the most information through volunteering field notes and interviews with staff (interviewees were chosen through expert sampling, a form of purposive sampling where individuals were chosen due to their high level of knowledge on the subjects studied), but the field notes and photographs from exhibits from Bainbridge Historical Museum also complement and contextualize issues crucial to understanding the impact of Asian American museums in the Washington state area. 

The methods used to conduct this research paper include recorded interviews with staff members Elizabeth P. Stewart from the Renton History Museum and Meilani Mandery and Jessica Rubenacker of the Wing-Luke museum. 

These methods were used to carefully examine the theorized impact of museums from past literature as well as the actual impact observed from field studies of museums that Asian American exhibits in museums can provide to healing intergenerational trauma in the Asian American community. 

The Psychology of the Exhibition

The way that museums curate their exhibits serve as a way to connect to its audiences to their cultural identities, and the stories that they weave together engage their audience in complex conversations about constantly evolving racial and cultural identities. A common example of a specific historical event that is often discussed within Asian American museums is Japanese internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the fight from Japanese Americans to prove their American citizenship by needing to put their lives on the line as soldiers in combat. Fujitan (1997) analyzes a specific example of this in the “Looking Like the Enemy” exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in L.A., as it provides a documentary of soldiers from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as the documentary takes a clear focus on the stance on the clear racism that Asian Americans have faced during war times. Although the exhibit provides a highly critical and almost bleak tone, it is asserted that these exhibits are important in providing Asian Americans an open discussion on their mixed feelings on Japanese American internment, as these conversations that open the wound the emotions felt about these devastating events provide as a sort of stepping stone towards healing. This specific study can be applied in a broader sense that these exhibits that address the complexity and the darker side of Asian American history can shed light and actually provide healing for those who face intergenerational trauma4.

Above is an exhibit within the Bainbridge Historical Museum that discusses the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which was funded by Bainbridges Japanese American community to educate visitors about Japanese American internment during World War II.

A concern that is brought up when discussing exhibits that touch on traumatic events is whether or not they provide more healing to a community or if they inadvertently bring back scarring memories, and actually cause more harm to the communities they are addressing. Historic sites such as The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which I visited, provide insight into this concern. Although the Memorial touches on greatly traumatic topics, in this case United States history of Japanese internment camps, it is evident that the Japanese American community in Bainbridge island were adamant on the creation of the memorial. From this it can be concluded that exhibits that address traumatic history can provide a source of healing for Asian American communities. 

Museums provide a large platform that affects the psyche of the communities that they spotlight, and this impact can not only come from its exhibits but can extend to programs within the museums. This includes the Wing-Luke museum, which has impacted teenagers within the Seattle and greater Washington Asian American community. This impact involves cultivating youth programs that aim to teach participants to have a greater appreciation of their culture, creating a connection with the museum, and encouraging participants to get further involved in events in the China international district where the Wing-Luke Museum is located, and by extension, the greater Washington Asian American community. These youth programs (such as a one week summer youth program for younger children and YouthCAN for older youth), and by extension the museums themselves, provide a greater appreciation for youths’ cultural context , and provide a gateway to wanting to further connect with the museum, and wanting to get more involved in the Asian American community. 

Facilitators of these programs also emphasize that historical research also impacted students’ view of their ethnic identities. In August of 2023, when volunteering as a camp counselor for the Wing-Luke’s summer youth program, an education coordinator specifically pointed out to the young participants of the program that there are scheduled activities throughout the day (whether it be recess outside to a park or an actual field trip around the China international district) to show young children within the Washington community that the Chinese International District is a safe place that is filled with shopsyouth can explore. So called “Ethnic communities” are often stereotyped as areas that are unsafe for children5, and even the general public. In this case, the Wing Luke Museum provides a different perspective of the neighborhoods they reside in, showing the rich cultural history of these neighborhoods to youth primarily in “generation alpha” and thus altering their relationship to the city. This provides evidence to the idea that museums (the exhibits, programs, etc) can cultivate “peace resources”, crafting unique resources that declare peace and healing as a direct response to lasting feelings of tension involving traumatic historical events6. This idea can be seen through Hirokazu Miyazaki’s observation from Nagasaki, Japan, and their peace ceremony on August 9th, the day when Nagasaki was bombed during World War II. Miyazaki observes different “small acts” (the term coined from Mayor Taue, the current mayor of Nagasaki) such as the “Kids Guernica” murals, a collaboration from teachers and school children about different concerns about achieving peace. The murals are unique as they represent “respective distinctiveness and specificity that resists… totalization”, meaning the different murals open a more uncomfortable but nuanced conversation that peace will not always be one unified vision. Instead, achieving peace is a collaboration of a diverse set of perspectives that do not always perfectly align with one another. This point is further emphasized by the fact that both children and teachers work together to create the art, as it “embod[ies] local expressions and images of peace conceived by children and adults who created them…specific forms of intergenerational collaborative work [was] used to create them” (Miyazaki, 2023). Museums are a place that promotes peace resources through the many different “small acts” of peace whether that be the stories they share to hands-on activities that visitors of the museum can participate in, such as the creation of art similar to the Kids Guernica murals. Additionally, these “small acts” of peace often address issues that have affected multiple generations, creating a healing space for intergenerational trauma. 

This theme has been further emphasized in other museum exhibits, such as at the Wing-Luke museum. The exhibit shown below, focuses on the death of James Hatsuaki Wakasa, who was shot at the Topaz concentration camp by military police, after walking his dog across the camp’s fences. The exhibit serves as a memorial for the death of Wakasa, and has an interactive activity where visitors of the museum can make paper flowers as part of a memorial wreath to ensure Wakasa’s death is not forgotten. In this way, the exhibit provides a way to engage its visitors on the complicated and often dark history of Japanese American internment, while also providing a sentiment of healing. The exhibit serves as an example of the careful balance of being able to tell history rooted in grief, while also providing visitors with a sense of hope and a feeling that change can be made.

Above is the Wakasa memorial exhibit, which details the tragic nature of James Hatsukai Wakasa, and has a large array of paper flower wreaths which visitors can add on to to honor someone or something that they feel has been stolen or harmed.

The Wakasa memorial is part of a much larger exhibit in the Wing-Luke museum called the “Resisters: A Legacy of Movement from the Japanese American Incarceration”. Jessica Rubenacker, Director of Exhibits of the Wing-Luke museum, described the purpose of the exhibition as a way to tell the often overlooked story of how Japanese Americans resisted internment, blending accounts from people during Japanese internment to Asian American activist movements in the modern day, showing how justice is a fight that continues for generations, similar to the collaborations portrayed from the Kids Guernica murals. Another example of this intergenerational collaboration is the “Oni Reflection” painting by Lauren Iida, which was created in 2022, but was created as a reference to the loss that her Japanese American ancestors experienced, and uses her art as a sort of restorative justice and a platform to continue to speak out against the traumatic events that her family experienced.

Above is the “Oni Reflection” painting by Lauren Iida, which was painted to represent forgotten historical photos of Japanese Americans during World War II.

A consistent theme throughout the exhibitions is that they provide space for the Asian American community to have conversation about their intergenerational trauma, and the curation of museums such as the Wing-Luke provide unique opportunities for conversations that might not have happened otherwise for elders to pass on to their youth and the future generations (interview, Rubenacker). Another staff member involved with the curation of the Resisters exhibit mentioned that, “so much of intergenerational trauma comes from elders not wanting to tell their experiences in internment camps, which causes a lot of people to be able to feel that trauma, but not knowing [where it comes from]”. The museum provides a space that tells these elders that tell that their “experiences are valid and [their] experiences deserved to be heard..which is important when your culture tells you to grit and bear it” a reflection that these conversations are especially important to have in the Asian American community, as Asian immigrant culture emphasizes persistence over mental struggles, which leaves little room to discuss mental health issues. 

Staff interviewed stated that they personally heard visitors and members of the China International District state that they felt the Wing-Luke museum was a place of inclusion and belonging, and that community members feel that they have found home spaces within the museum. Although it was crucial that injustices were shared within the museum exhibits, it was emphasized that the exhibits are made to emphasize a conclusion that the Asian American community in Washington was a story with“ joy, strength and positivity”(Rubenacker, interview). The museum was intent on preserving the history of the China International District, and that their purpose was to support their elders and generations to come, ensuring that the older generations issues will be addressed with the youth, and that there is space for healing for the intergenerational trauma faced within the community. Staff within the museum shared how unique Wing-Luke’s impact has been within the Washington Asian American community, sharing how three different generations were affected by the Wing-Luke museum. They noted that a child that was part of the museum’s YouthCAN program had a grandfather that previously worked the front desk of the Wing-Luke museum and this youth’s Aunt also worked with the Wing-Luke museum and was also “part of the Wing-Luke family”. It was clear that “this museum was important for three generations… and there have not been those cultural centers [that have impacted] three or more generations of Asian Americans”, with the programs that the museum has provided such as YouthCAN, it is also clear that the museum provides a space that directly shapes Asian American identity. 

Representation and Ownership 

The question of maintaining neutrality and presenting a neutral history has long been a question amongst the curation of museums. In an interview with Elizabeth P. Stewart, Director of the Renton History Museum, she discusses the difficulty with maintaining neutrality in a museum “In the past it has meant that museum staff did their best to be factually accurate and avoid a strong (or any) perspective as they spoke with authority about what they had researched” (Interview, Stewart). Only after the civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s, is when the narrative changed in terms of this “neutrality” that excluded stories of people of color throughout history, and when activists took these issues into their own hands by created museums that centered around racial minorities that were overlooked throughout history, in this sense, although sentiments for maintaining neutrality in museums can be a legitimate concern at times, it has also often times been used as a shield to prevent telling stories about racial minorities in favor of being too strong, which has maintained a largely White American narrative throughout US history. Fath Davis Ruffins asserts that for a long portion of history in America, “White institutions maintained that Black people and Native people had contributed nothing to the heroic building of the country or to its predominant Anglo-American culture” and she goes on to discuss how this exclusion of people of color from history was used to further segregation and racism in America (Ruffins, 2022). This still remains a struggle for museums in the modern day, as Jessica Rubenacker, Director of the Wing-Luke exhibits states that the museum has had efforts to being more inclusive as modern ideas on race have changed, but “there is plenty more work to be done for a field that has primarily focused on a white-centered narrative”. The struggle still remains for museums in the modern day to be able to battle this idea of neutrality, as there is more of a demand to tell stories from people that were often looked as unimportant or insignificant in American history. In an interview with Meilani Mandery, YouthCAN Assistant and Education Guide staff in the Wing-Luke museum, she stated that “people’s lived experience isn’t neutral…that [people’s lives] may seem political…but that is just how people exist in the world”, when the goal of a museum itself is to share history, to share stories that are centered around humanity, neutrality remains something that seems highly unattainable, as people themselves are not neutral. 

As neutrality remains less of a goal for museums, there is a call to represent more diverse populations and to ensure that museums represent the communities that they represent. This typically involves extensive research from the staff of the museums, such as the Renton History museum, where the staff (in this case the Director, Curator, and an Educator) work carefully to craft an exhibit that tells stories from a diverse set of perspectives, and potentially reaching out to communities if necessary. Direct community collaboration seems more a non traditional to curating an exhibit, as a unique approach that the Wing-Luke is known for is their CAC (community advisory committee) approach, where exhibition staff meet monthly with community members to collaborate on how the museum will develop the content for each exhibit (Interview, Rubenacker). In this way, the Asian American community is able to dictate how their story is told, and what message they want to send to the museum’s greater audience.

Although the Wing-Luke museum has gained much acclaim for its community advisory committee, and being able to voice the communities they represent, there are still issues of equally depicting the communities they represent. The Wing-Luke is the only pan-Asian art and history museum in the United States, which is a large undertaking that means that not all groups part of the AAPI community will be equally represented. As one staff member states, “At times the Desi community gets left out and the Southeast Asian diaspora gets left out, Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders get left out, and having equal representation across the board is really difficult and does not feel feasible right now. There are so many people to highlight, that sometimes they can’t all be highlighted” concluding that it is still an ongoing struggle to get everyone represented as there are so many communities to highlight. Although it is apparent that the Wing-Luke has made many strides in terms of diversity and inclusion, it is clear that equal representation and representation of communities that are smaller within the United States still remains as an ongoing struggle that does not have a perfect solution. 

Institutions and Prestige 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world entered an economic recession, and with the pandemic, there was also a large increase in anti-Asian hate in America. Elizabeth Stewart notes that the Renton history museum has“ experienced occasional pushback from people for whom inclusion and equity are not values, particularly over the past few years as the political climate has changed. We have received some hate mail and resistance from donors and members” (Stewart, interview). With the current political climate increasing in the US, tensions between appeasing donors and maintaining values of representing history involving people of color come into question, although it seems that the Renton History museum is set on telling history that reflects all walks of life. But, as Stewart notes, diversity and inclusion can be beneficial financially to museums, as the Renton History museum has done collaborative work with students in Renton that discuss racial stereotypes and combating, noting that “These various programs have increased our funding—the arts and heritage funding agency in King County, 4Culture, is very focused on encouraging equity and inclusion—and our visitor numbers” (Stewart, Interview). Ultimately, for the Renton History Museum, becoming more inclusive and including more diverse perspectives has ultimately led to more funding despite receiving pushback from some members of the public as well as their donors. 

The Wing-Luke appears to have more positive experiences in terms of funding after the pandemic. Interviews from staff notes that Wing-Luke has more grant opportunities because of increased demand from the public to have more museums that represent minorities. This has helped immensely, especially in terms of government grants, as they have been seen as ways to support AAPI museums after the economic recession during the pandemic. Though interviews with staff noted that during the pandemic, there was a rise of anti-asian sentiment, but there was also a rise of combating Asian-American hate that created more of a spotlight on the Wing-Luke museum, more support financially, and more coverage from the media after the pandemic. 

As this idea continues that platforms as big as a museum have a responsibility to address the sophistication of the communities that they represent, there is also the idea that museums can change the idea of citizenship, especially when they represent a community that is based on immigration. Cultural citizenship is the idea that citizenship is socially crafted, and that people from multiple cultures have “the right to participate in the cultural life of the community on equal terms with others” which suggest “the simultaneous claim to one’s cultural difference and to the right to be a first-class citizen”7. Museums, especially ones that represent racial minorities and immigrants, have the opportunity to construct the public’s idea of citizenship, and one that celebrates multicultural people, instead of placing them at a disadvantage. This idea is discussed by Emily Stokes-Rees, an anthropologists that studied the Peranakan Museum and the Empress Place Museum in Singapore, and how the institution of a museum can be able to promote ideas of nation building and cultural citizenship, “Together, the two museums create a new, stronger sense of nationhood and citizenship, binding Singapore’s often disparate cultures together and forming a public cohesion that did not exist before”8. Although America is different from Singapore in that it is not a society that does not necessarily have the same emphasis on creating one united identity, museums in both Singapore and America have the opportunity to be able to frame different cultural identities as something that citizens can celebrate and take pride in. 

Museums have the opportunity to influence both the public’s perception of citizenship as well as the youth of the future. The Wing-Luke Museum in particular has utilized it’s funding to create youth programs (both summer camp program for younger children and a youthCAN program for older adolescence) not only dedicated to creating art, but also creating a space where it’s youth (many of them being Asian American) can interact with Asian American culture and its history, which provides further impact into the participants cultural identity9. As an example, while volunteering in it’s summer camp program, the participants worked on making a Kazari ball, a decoration that is made during the New Years festival in Japan, which provided the children with a way to interact with Asian culture, and provided a sophisticated, complex understanding of their culture that leaves the children with a sense of pride in their multiculturalism, rather than feeling they have to assimilate to American culture (field notes, 8/9/2023). Additionally, when interviewing museum staff, one staff who worked with the YouthCAN art program noted that, “YouthCAN provides a unique opportunity for Asian American youth to have a space to practice creativity and art” noting that they viewed the program as especially important in light of common stereotypes in media that portray Asians as being boxed only to STEM focused careers, as these programs create a space for Asian American youth to explore career options they might not have had access to. This opens a larger conversation about stereotypes that Asian Americans are to stick to STEM centered careers, stereotypes which are rooted in the idea that Asian Americans and Asian immigrants are only seen as valuable if they are able to be productive to the state and the economy, when people veer out of that stereotype, there is a backlash and a stigma, which can come from media to their own families. Museums such as the Wing-Luke have programs that help combat this stereotype, and expand Asian Americans views of their cultural identity, influencing the idea of cultural citizenship. 

While interviewing staff from the Renton History Museum, it was also mentioned that staff felt that with a platform as big as a museum, they felt there was a responsibility to tell stories about people of Asian descent as well as all other minorities. There was an understanding that Renton has a diverse population, and as the museum is publicly owned by the government, there was a feeling of responsibility for providing a voice that reflects its diverse populations . Even in it’s more “mainstream” exhibitions, such as through its focus on marriages, they incorporated a story of an interracial couple, Helen Emery and Gunjiro Aoki, who had to flee from California to Seattle in the 1900’s as so many states of the time had criminalized interracial marriage between white people and people of Asian descent, and ended up settling in Kennydale, Washington (the exhibit is shown below). And the staff stated that the purpose of these exhibits is to help their audiences understand the consequences of racial bigotry and hatred, and to help them think about ways to overcome that in their own lives, with the understanding of how big of a platform that a museum provides them (Renton History Museum interview).

Above details the interracial marriage between Gunjiro Aoki and Helen Emery, who settled in Washington state after moving state to state in hopes of settling somewhere that did not criminalize interracial marriage.

Healing Through The Museum 

Trauma was a common theme in exhibitions. Through observations of exhibits and interviews with museum staff, especially within the Wing-Luke museum, there was much discussion about exhibits that addressed traumatic events, prominently Japanese American internment. These exhibits opened conversations of grief, loss, and pain with families that would not have been possible otherwise. Asian American museums have a psychological dimension, and provide a large platform of healing for generations of Asian Americans. 

Asian American museums provide a space that is therapeutic for the Asian American community, as the curation of exhibits that discuss traumatic history allows for families to discuss the anguish that is kept for generations that often goes unaddressed, and allows Asian Americans to feel they are taking control over their narrative after so many years of feeling injustice. Within a community, it is not only a lack of violence and calling out of past injustice that heals a community, but also the active promotion of peace that allows for a better future for the generations to come. Examples of these “acts of peace” include the paper flowers wreaths visitors of the Wing-Luke museum made within the James Wakasa memorial, artwork done by the Wing-Luke’s Summer camp and YouthCAN program promoted a sophisticated and celebration understanding of the youths cultural identity, and the diversity exhibits created in the Renton History Museum. All of these examples support the idea that museums create an environment where generation alpha and other future generations have opportunities to flourish and celebrate their cultural identities with more opportunities than past generations have. 

Curation of exhibits is also a large aspect of the healing within Asian American museums. The Wing-Luke in particular brought a community based method that allowed Asian Americans to take control of their narrative, and get a chance to hold the pen that solidified their history after so many years of having their stories being told by outside groups who did not fully articulate the nuance of their lives. Being allowed to curate their exhibits let Asian Americans define their healing on their own terms, as the community members were integral to the museum in creating exhibits that told an authentic story that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In this way, the Asian American community is able to tell their story in a cathartic way that allows them to express their experiences in a way that avoids unnecessary victimization and instead gives a sense of strength and hope. 

A consistent theme with museum staff was that there was a sense of responsibility to properly represent the communities they served, and in this way, museums have a unique kind of citizenship. Museums mediate cultural citizenship and facilitate people’s relationship to the state, their identities, language, cultures as they craft a new type of belonging. This new belonging celebrates the experience of multiculturalism that is able to celebrate multiple aspects of one’s cultural identity that emphasizes a holistic approach that doesn’t reject any part of one’s cultural identity (Prato 2016). Exhibits and programs within the museum created a safe space for youth to be able to explore their identity in creative ways that go against the stereotypes often portrayed within the media. Therefore, analyzing museums provides a theory for a more nuanced understanding of healing through cultural, awareness, curation, identity exploration . 

Conclusion

Throughout the paper, it was clear how important Asian American museums were to Asian American communities, and how they provided a space for healing years of generational trauma. Additionally, neutrality does not seem a concept that museums aim for as it has openly been used to gloss over the contribution and stories of people of color, and museums are choosing to value more “unheard” perspectives. Finally, museums also provide a space to promote the idea of cultural citizenship, and that people from multiple cultures should celebrate their diversity. There were limits to this study, such as to being able to see the long term effects of the impact of the museums programs on the youth, as they were only able to be observed for a week, and the long term impacts of the program on the youths view on their culture remain to be seen, and the study was located in the greater Seattle, Washington area. In light of a post pandemic world and grappling with the reality of anti-asian sentiment, future research can be conducted to study the challenge in maintaining the momentum created post pandemic of an emphasis on showcasing Asian American history. Future research can focus on how generation alpha is affected by museums and the transformative power their programs have on intergenerational trauma healing and peace as well as how these programs cultivate cultural citizenship for generation alpha. It can investigate how future generations will experience intergenerational trauma even with institutions with these programs in place as peace resources. It can also investigate how other minorities have addressed healing intergenerational trauma that extends beyond Asian American history. Further research will continue to take seriously investigating what types of belonging museums craft for their communities, but particularly for multicultural youth, although there remains the challenge in being able to conduct a study that can analyze an entire generation, although we can look at broader patterns of generation alphas relationship with intergenerational trauma in comparison to previous generations.

References

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