“I was born and raised in this country, and I really don’t feel that I learned enough or that kids learn enough about the contributions and the pain that Asian Americans went through,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bill to explore the creation of a new museum.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House is expected to vote on creating an eight-member panel to explore what it would take to acquire collections for the museum, possible locations and funding, among other details.
“I hope that this is a permanent way for both Americans and visitors to this country to get a glimpse of Asian American life,” Meng said.
Meng hopes the museum will feature everything from installations about the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese laborers from entering the country for 20 years beginning in 1882, to information about Asian Americans who have served in the armed forces.
“We want to make sure that we are being as inclusive as possible,” Meng said.
The path to creating the museum follows the formula of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was 100 years in the making and opened in 2016.
If the Asian American museum is approved, it may be vying for a spot on the National Mall alongside the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum, which were both authorized by Congress in 2020.
The nation’s 22 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries, according to the Pew Research Center. Asian Americans are the single fastest-growing ethnic group with the population growing by 36 percent over the past decade. By 2060, the Asian population in the United States is expected to pass 46 million.
Since the start of the pandemic, attacks against Asian Americans have increased nationwide, law enforcement officials say. In 2021, journalist Lisa Ling testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee on the need for the museum.
“When the stories and histories of a people are excluded from a country’s narrative, it becomes so easy to overlook and dehumanize and entire population,” Ling said. “ … We all deserve a place to take our children and see that Asian Americans are and have been an integral part of the fabric of this great nation.”