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Proposed Asian American History Museum at the Great Park

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Rendering of the proposed Asian American History Museum obtained from a Great Park presentation

The Irvine City Council has given an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the development of an Asian American History Museum (AAHM) in the Great Park.

The proposed museum will be one of the main attractions of the Cultural Terrace West area of the Great Park, adjacent to the existing Sports Complex.

The museum will total some 220,000 square feet — including 94,000 square feet of exhibition space and a 125,000 square-foot sculpture garden and plaza. It will also feature a 300-seat auditorium, a gift shop and conference rooms, and an Asian Food Hall, which will be added in the second phase.

The goals of the museum are:

  • Preserve and document the history and culture of the Asian American community in Orange County
     
  • Educate the public about the Asian American experience, fostering cultural understanding and respect
     
  • Celebrate the contributions of Asian American individuals to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the country
     
  • Inspire future generations of Asian American leaders by showcasing successful role models and highlighting pathways to achievement

Yu Lan Chung, CEO of the Chinese Cultural Center and a member of the AAHM Steering Committee, said, “This is an historic opportunity for the City of Irvine and the Great Park.” She noted that Orange County has the third-largest Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the nation, the second-largest Korean American community and the largest Vietnamese American community. 
 
“We are so lucky to have an opportunity to prove that multicultural harmony is possible,” Chung said.
 
Mary Ann Fu, executive director of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, says that the museum “will bring national recognition to Irvine.” She added that the Irvine museum “will be able to bring in other Asian American museums nationally to act as advisors,” including the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center.
 
“This museum will be more than just a collection of artifacts and exhibits,” said longtime community advocate Jack Tuan. “It will be a vital educational resource to showcase the diverse stories and experiences of Asian Americans and foster understanding and appreciation among all Irvine residents and beyond. … a place where we can all come together to build a more inclusive and compassionate society.”
 
Vice Mayor Larry Agran called the AAHM a “wonderful project” and said, “I’m very excited about the Asian American History Museum and what it can do to further even more multicultural harmony in Irvine and throughout Orange County.”

The Council approved a 30-month “pre-development agreement” at its May 28th meeting, which will guide planning and define the roles of the City and the museum leading up to the granting of a ground lease by the City. Work on the museum will begin after the granting of the lease.

The AAHM will be privately funded, with no City funding.

Roger Bloom

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