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Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Celebrates Asian Pacific American History

National Tour Continues at the Southwest Branch Weber County Library

March 15, 2017

Version en espanol

Asian and Pacific Americans make up more than 5 percent of the U.S. population—more than 17 million people—and those numbers are growing. Their ancestral roots represent more than 50 percent of the world, extending from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and from South Asia to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia.

In commemoration of this important history, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” will open March 18 at the Southwest Branch Weber County Library in Roy, Utah, where it will be on view through May 25. “I Want the Wide American Earth” was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

In this first exhibition of its kind, the Smithsonian celebrates Asian Pacific American history across a multitude of diverse cultures and explores how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of the nation’s history. “I Want the Wide American Earth” tells the rich and complex stories of the very first Asian immigrants, including their participation in key moments in American history: Asian immigrants panned in the Gold Rush, hammered ties in the Transcontinental Railroad, fought on both sides in the Civil War and helped build the nation’s agricultural system.

Through the decades, Asian immigrants struggled against legal exclusion, civil rights violations and unlawful detention, such as the 120,000 Japanese who were interred during World War II. Since the 1960s, vibrant new communities, pan-Asian, Pacific Islander and cross-cultural in makeup, have blossomed.

The banner exhibition is complemented by an e-book, which is a 14-page illustrated adaption of the exhibition. Produced in collaboration with SI Universe Media, creators of the first-ever Asian Pacific American comics anthology, the e-book will tell the Asian Pacific American story in graphic narrative, featuring work by seven Asian Pacific American comic artists. The e-book is free to download and viewable on all tablet devices and e-readers.

Curated by Lawrence-Ming Bùi Davis, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Initiative coordinator, “I Want the Wide American Earth” is a moving, dramatic and evocative narrative of Asian Pacific American history and culture.

About the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center produces programs and exhibitions about the Asian Pacific American experience and works in partnership with organizations across the Smithsonian and beyond to enrich collections and activities about the Asian Pacific American experience. It shares the challenges and stories of America’s fastest-growing communities. It connects treasures and scholars with the public, celebrates long-lived traditions and explores contemporary expressions. The stories it tells are vital to a deeper understanding of the nation and a richer appreciation of Asian Pacific cultures. Visit www.apac.si.edu for more information.

About the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

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SI-137-2017

The Angkor Dance Troupe of Lowell, Mass. Photo © James Higgins

Media only 
Arlene Irizarry 
(202) 633-3582 
irizarrya@si.edu

members of the Angkor dance troupe


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