The Carnegie Museum of Kings County presents an exhibition celebrating Kings County’s Asian communities

The Carnegie Museum of Kings County’s celebration of Asian history and culture will kick off Friday, March 22, in downtown Hanford.

“The Asian immigrants who have settled in our county from the late 1800s to the present are an integral part of who we are as a community,” said museum board president Jack Schwartz.

The exhibition runs through July 28 at the historic Carnegie Library building and is the first of two to highlight the experiences and contributions of the area’s Asian communities. Covering the time period of 1875 to 1946, it folds their stories into historical context and explores the central role they have played in California’s development and the anti-immigrant sentiment early arrivals faced. Displays include scenes depicting the herbal shop of Dr. L.T. Sue, the Taoist Temple in China Alley and the barracks of internment camps where local Japanese were held during World War II.

Gail Kishiue Holiman, curator of the Japanese displays, said the exhibition reflects how resilient the Japanese were after the U.S. government forced them to leave their homes and relocate to remote and desolate sites across the country in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. They would remain incarcerated until the war ended in 1945.

“Our generation did not ask much about historical events, nor did our parents discuss being forced into the assembly centers and relocation centers or talk about rebuilding once they returned,” she said, adding that working on the exhibition deepened her appreciation for her now-deceased parents and grandparents.

The exhibition’s Chinese displays underscore that community’s deep local roots. Curator Arianne Wing said Chinese immigrants arrived in Hanford in the late 19th century and were heavily involved in the railroad, agriculture and other industries. China Alley, a historic district in Hanford, was once the heart of the local Chinese community.

“These stories are our history,” Wing said, explaining why an exhibition focusing on the area’s Asian communities is important. “It’s not just Hanford history or California history. It’s every immigrant’s story.”

Part II of the Asian exhibition, opening in early fall 2024, will highlight the cultural celebrations that have bonded these communities over the years, businesses such as the world renowned Imperial Dynasty and beloved local figures including historian Camille Wing, businesswoman Naomi Tagawa and restaurateur Richard Wing.

The Carnegie Museum of Kings County is located at 109 E. Eighth St. in Hanford. The Asian exhibition will be open to the public Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person (ages 12 and up), $2 per child up to age 12 and a maximum of $10 per family.

Use your voice

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *