collections page

The main goal of the Chinese American Museum Collections Department is to carefully preserve its objects in the present so that the memories, stories, and rich history of Chinese Americans live on in the future. Without a steward for collections care, these precious and timeless objects would not last for all of perpetuity. Through collections management practices, the CAM collection will be preserved for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

The department preserves, safeguards, and organizes the objects within the CAM collection by striving to store objects in a climate-controlled environment with minimal light exposure, as well as ensuring that proper records are maintained to track and identify objects. The Collections Department is also responsible for assessing any object needs, and such needs are determined through condition reporting, conservation assessments, and object inventory.

The Chinese American Museum houses objects related to the history, livelihood, and experience of Chinese Americans, particularly in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, and the Garnier Building. The collection has grown to over 7,500 artifacts, documents, and photographs, spanning the late 19th century to the present.

CAM collects/has objects related to:

  • Immigration to the United States, immigration issues (past and present)
  • Chinese and Chinese American organizations, many of which operated out of the Garnier Building
  • Sun Wing Wo Herb Store, which operated out of the Garnier Building
  • Chinese American participation in the U.S. Military
  • Livelihood
  • Children’s toys
  • Clothing, costumes, and other textiles
  • Work created by Chinese American Artists
  • Historic Chinatown
  • New Chinatown
  • The San Gabriel Valley

Long term goals for the collection include:

  • Digitizing the collection and creating an online resource for researchers
  • Developing the art collection
  • Incorporating the most effective and up to date collections care practices for the collection
  • Educating the public on the importance of collections management in preserving objects

Department Wishlist:
The following is a list of objects that the Collections Department needs to better care for the collection:

  • stabArte Painting Storage Track System for painting storage
  • Rubbermaid flatbed cart for transporting large, fragile objects up to 1,000 lbs.
  • Digital camera with macro lens and ringflash for digitization project

If you are interested in donating one or more of these items to the CAM Collections Department, or have questions regarding the CAM Collection, please contact the Registrar & Collections Associate, Rachelle Shumard, at:

Tel: 213-485-8863

Please note: Artifacts dropped off at the museum without consent of the Exhibitions Coordinator and Collections Manager cannot be accepted into the CAM collection.