Chinese Canadian Museum in Vancouver’s Chinatownby
The 133 year old Wing Sang building in Vancouver’s Chinatown will soon be home to the Chinese Canadian Museum, the first in the country, announced in a statement released today by Hon. Melanie Mark, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.
Chinese Canadian Museum in Vancouver’s Chinatown
First constructed in 1889 for Mr. Yip Sang’s business, the Wing Sang Company, then expanded to provide a home for his family, the Victorian Italianate building at 51 East Pender Street is Chinatown’s oldest structure.
“The contributions of Chinese Canadians to this province have been invaluable,” Premier John Horgan said. “The Chinese Canadian Museum responds to the community’s long-standing desire for a place to share stories of achievement and shine a light on injustice. The museum will be an important place for all British Columbians, connecting the past to the present and future generations.”
The Province is providing $27.5 million to the Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia to support continued planning and operations of the society, as well as the purchase of the historic Wing Sang Building at 51 East Pender St.
In 2004, Bob Rennie, founder and executive director of rennie, acquired the historic building and funded an extensive five-year heritage renovation and restoration. The rennie foundation will donate a leadership gift of $7.5 million to ensure the Chinese Canadian Museum is sustainable in its mission.
“Museums connect us to the past and the present. For years, the Chinese Canadian communities in B.C. have been calling on government to share the rich history of Chinese Canadians – both the challenges and contributions,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This new museum is a light in Vancouver Chinatown and a response to a call to action from our fellow British Columbians who have historically endured poor treatment. It is an important legacy for British Columbians for generations to come.”
The building will be owned and operated by the Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia.
The Chinese Canadian Museum will highlight places of historic significance throughout the Province, celebrating the heritage of Chinese Canadians in BC.
“Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum is the result of many passionate, knowledgeable people in the community working together over several years to build a bridge between the past and present,” said George Chow, Minister of State for Trade. “I am honoured to have been part of that process and am looking forward to sharing the results of our vision with all British Columbians.”
The Wing Sang Building will feature space for permanent and temporary exhibits, multi-purpose programs and events, and learning spaces for students.
The museum is expected to open in 2023.
Related: A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia
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I had visited this building several times as the art gallery of Bob Rennie. It is a marvelous space and Rennie kept it’s historical features. I remember the small school on the upper floor. The museum is lucky to have the restorative work already complete to build their museum. This will be a great asset to the community.