Current Exhibitions

Don’t Believe the Hype: LA Asian Americans in Hip Hop

May 18, 2018 through November 4, 2018. Extended through December 9, 2018.


Permanent Exhibition

Don’t Believe the Hype: LA Asian Americans in Hip Hop

Don’t Believe the Hype: LA Asian Americans in Hip Hop examines the genre’s influence of resistance, refuge, and reinvention for Asian American living in the greater Los Angeles region through art. The gallery includes site-specific immersive spaces created by graffiti artists and muralists. Paintings, photographs, audio/video installations and historical ephemera are also on display.

Extended through December 9, 2018

Participating visual artists: DEFER, Gajin Fujita, Hueman, Kenny Kong, Nisha Sethi, Farah Sosa, Shark Toof, SWANK, and Erin Yoshi. Featuring media and documents from B+ for Mochilla, Beat Junkie Institute of Sound, Culture Shock, organizers of the Firecracker music series Daryl Chou and Alfred Hawkins, and the performing artists Jason Chu, DJ Rhettmatic, DJ Babu, and SETI X.

Public Programming Overview:

  • Opening Reception – May 18, 2018, 6:00 – 8:30 pm, with live performances by rapper Jason Chu, and a DJ set featuring DJ Babu, Sammie G., DJ Dynamix, and other members of the Beat Junkies Institute of Sound.
  • Family Day – July 29, 2018, 11:30am – 3:00pm, printmaking workshop inspired by Shark Toof’s silk-screented tote bags in the courtyard.
  • Represent, represent! Asian Americans in Hip Hop – August 23, 2018, 6:00 – 9:00 pm, a summer evening of music and speakers discussing representation of Asian Americans in the hip hop music industry.
  • Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience – October 4, 2018, 6:00-9:00 pm, Co-presented by Lambda Literary and the Chinese American Museum, join us for a panel discussion and performances by D’LO, NATHAN RAMOS, KAY ULUNDAY BARRETT, KITTY TSUI, ADDIE TSAI, and moderated by CB LEE for Lambda Literary’s LitFest 2018.

This exhibition is co-curated by Ninochka McTaggart, PhD, and the Chinese American Museum’s newly appointed curator Justin Charles Hoover. A zine was published in conjunction with the exhibition, which includes essays, interviews with artist SWANK and Daryl Chou (Firecracker co-founder / producer), a timeline of Asian American MCs and DJs, educational activities, and illustrations by Brenda Chi, Kenny Kong, Lorna Xu, and Andy Yoon. Zine team includes Ninochka McTaggart (co-curator), CAM staff: Kenneth Chan, Janelle Sanglang, and Hannah Yang (zine coordinator & design), and Getty MUI intern Emily Gao.

Download the zine, Don’t Believe the Hype: Asian Americans in Hip Hop, here.

Special thanks to institutional partners including the Beat Junkies Institute of Sound, Rowland Wen, booking manager with Jason Chu music, L.A. Louver Gallery representing Gajin Fujita.

Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Friends of the Chinese American Museum. Major support is provided through a grant from the Eastside Arts Initiative (EAI), in partnership with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LA Plaza) and the California Community Foundation (CCF), with additional support provided by the Asian Pacific Community Fund, Michael Duchemin, Ph.D., Will and Anna Hoover, Munson Kwok, Ph.D. and Suellen Cheng, Jim Jang, Billie and Lucille Lee, and Dorothy Tamashiro.

Origins: The Birth and Rise of Chinese American Communities in Los Angeles


Origins: The Birth and Rise of Chinese American Communities in Los Angeles, a permanent, cutting edge exhibition celebrating the growth and development of Chinese American enclaves from Downtown Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley.


This exhibit narrates Chinese immigration to the United States with an emphasis on community settlement in Los Angeles. The display is outlined into four distinct time periods. Each period is defined by an important immigration law and event, accompanied by a brief description and a short personal story about a local Chinese American and their experiences in that particular historical period.

Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop

This exhibition is a recreation of an actual store that was housed in the Garnier Building in the 1890’s. The Sun Wing Wo store opened in 1891 and remained in this building until 1948. The store was a multi-purpose space that showed how self-sufficient the Chinese were and had to be due to racism and discrimination, while also being responsive to the needs of their community. Even though the store predominantly served the Chinese, there were European, Japanese, and Mexican Americans who also came to purchase Chinese merchandise.

On one side of the gallery, people can find merchandise sold at the general store such as food, clothing, furniture, firecrackers, and dishes; they can also find western products that were popular at the time such as cigars and perfumed soaps. The store also provided banking, postal, and letter writing services for the community.

On the other side of the gallery, the Museum recreated the herb shop where Chinese could practice their traditional form of healthcare – Chinese Medicine. There were acupuncture services and prescriptions of herbal remedies provided.