Chinese Canadian Museum to Open in Vancouver

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Set to open to the public on Saturday, July 1st, the Chinese Canadian Museum is Canada’s first museum recognizing past, present, and future contributions and stories of Chinese Canadians towards the growth and success of BC and Canada.

Chinese Canadian Museum Vancouver - Monica Cheng Photo

Chinese Canadian Museum to Open in Vancouver

Once completed, the museum will feature bright, renewed, and contemporary spaces that herald cultural experiences and its connection to the illustrious Chinese Canadian historical perspectives and modern-day narratives. Through exhibitions, educational programming, and special events, the Chinese Canadian Museum promises to be an impactful addition to the fabric of Chinatown and across Canada.

The modern, contemporary, renewed Chinese Canadian Museum will feature:

  • A special introduction gallery space that will feature Odysseys and Migration, an exhibition exploring the Chinese diaspora from 1788 to present day.
  • A period living room with interactive antique objects that bring visitors back in time to the 1930s when the original owners of the Wing Sang Building, the Yip Sang family lived in Chinatown.
  • Chinatown’s oldest school room (est. 1901) with many original elements kept intact — it initially served as a classroom for Yip Sang’s children and children from the community.
  • An interactive immigration map on which visitors can draw and share the origins and immigration journeys of their families.
  • A painted mural by Chinese Canadian artist Marlene Yuen, highlighting Chinese Canadian journeys and experiences past to present.
  • A commissioned Indigenous mural art piece by Musqueam artist Susan Point and her son Thomas Cannell to honour the strong connection and the historical ties of the Indigenous peoples and early Chinese workers in Canadian history.

The Wing Sang Building, which means “everlasting” in Chinese, was originally built in 1889 as a small two-storey warehouse by Yip Sang, a successful merchant whose own story is a testament to the success of Chinese immigrants. A larger three-storey warehouse was built in 1901 to envelop the smaller building. Another separate six-storey building was constructed at the back in 1912 to house his growing family, which included three wives and 23 children. A covered walkway was built between the buildings over the narrow Market Alley, which was a thriving social gathering spot for the community with laundry shops, barber shop, and lodgings. 

What’s the Door For?

On the building’s façade can be seen a door on the second floor, appearing to open up to … nowhere. Its purpose will be revealed in the museum’s new video campaign “What’s the door for?”  — giving audiences fun facts about the historic Wing Sang Building.

Featuring renowned Hong Kong-born Asian-American actor Tzi Ma, who is now based in Vancouver, the video series also highlights interviews with some of Yip Sang’s eldest grandchildren, including 88-year-old Mel Yip, who shares insights into his family’s legacy and memories growing up in the building.

About the Project

Vancouver real estate marketer Bob Rennie bought the Wing Sang Building in 2004, and renovated and restored it as his office and art exhibition space. In 2022, the Province of B.C. provided $27.5 million to help purchase the heritage building as the home of the Chinese Canadian Museum.

Renovations at the museum are currently underway, as well as the installation of its inaugural exhibition, The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act. July 1, 2023 marks 100 years since the Chinese Immigration Act was passed into law in 1923.

The museum’s renewal is a three-phase multi-year project focused on revitalizing and upgrading more than 21,000 square feet of building space including expanding the amount of exhibition and programming space to house future permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The Chinese Canadian Museum is realized by contributions from the Province of B.C., totalling $48.5 million in support of the establishment. Along with a $25-million fundraising campaign from private donors across Canada, the museum is in great shape for its grand opening, with more work needed in subsequent phases for the full building to be renovated into museum, programming, and education space.

On May 23, 2023 it was announced that the Chinese Canadian Museum received $5,179,000 from the Government of Canada in support of its building and space renewal at its new permanent location. The federal funding is provided through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) and will go a long way to the realization of the Chinese Canadian Museum as a world-class museum. These include the development of insightful and compelling exhibitions, public education programs, special events and community engagement initiatives.

The first of its kind in Canada, the Chinese Canadian Museum is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown and will open to the public on July 1, 2023. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Current Contests on Miss604
*All contests are open to residents of Canada only, unless otherwise stated. Contest timelines are published on each individual post along with entry methods. Some contests may only be open to those 19 years of age and older. Winners are announced on the contest blog posts. Contest policy »
Comments are closed on this post
Also on