Visions of America: Exploring the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle – Stories of the Asian Pacific American Experience

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Program Description:

In this episode, Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Crosby Kemper explores Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history and culture in Seattle beginning with a visit to the Wing Luke Museum. Established in 1967, the Wing Luke Museum is an art and history museum that focuses on art, history, and culture of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians; it is the only pan-Asian community-based museum in the US.

After a museum exhibition tour with current director Joel Tan, Crosby meets with recently retired director Beth Takekawa and author Lawrence Matsuda for a discussion of the resilience of Japanese Americans during the internment of World War II. Then, former Washington governor Gary Locke shares about his own Seattle roots and the history of the city’s Chinatown-International District before a visit with Bettie Luke, the youngest sister of Wing Luke. Bettie discusses her brother’s legacy in the community and her own lifetime spent working for social justice concerns.

About Visions of America

Visions of America – All Stories, All People, All Places, hosted by Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Crosby Kemper, explores our great nation and uses its diverse collection of museums, libraries and historians both familiar and new to tell some of the lesser-known stories that have flown under the radar in our shared legacy of American Independents. Over the course of 3 half-hour episodes in its first season, the program journeys to different historical sites throughout the nation for conversations that will tell the engaging but sometimes hidden stories that resonate with where we are at as a nation today. and maybe give some insight and inspiration on how we got here. But history doesn’t just exist in a museum. Each episode will also venture out into the cities these institutions call home to delve further into what makes each of these communities so important to our national identity, all with the help of local historians who know the stories of their community better than anyone.

Guest Biographies:

Joël Barraquiel Tan, Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum

Joël Barraquiel Tan is the executive director of the Wing Luke Museum, a community-focused Asian and Pacific Islander museum in Seattle dedicated to arts, culture, heritage and preservation. An executive with 30 years of leadership experience, Barraquiel Tan is responsible for leading the Wing Luke Museum through its growth and expansion. A passionate cultural entrepreneur and artist with a proven track record of success, he brings experience in community building, innovating new programming and promoting arts engagement to his role.    

Barraquiel Tan earned a BA from the University of California, Berkley, an MFA from Antioch University and an MFT from Northcentral University.  
Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute and the National Parks Service, the Wing Luke Museum is the only pan-Asian and Pacific Islander Museum in the country that promotes inspired action through authentic storytelling and community co-created exhibitions, tours, public programs, retail, advocacy, media, and a wide array of educational programs. 


Beth Takekawa, Former Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum

Beth Takekawa retired in August 2021 from her position as Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing). She joined the Museum staff 24 years previously as its first Associate Director. She became Executive Director in January 2008. 

The Wing Luke Museum is a community-based cultural anchor in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. It is the nation’s only museum representing Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The Wing is the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate in the Northwest, and an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service.  

At the start of her employment The Wing’s operating budget was under $1Million and it leased a historic auto garage as its home. During the next ten years the Museum’s board, staff and supporters strengthened its public impact and financial strength. They conducted an unprecedented capital campaign and expansion project, raising $25 Million. With these funds the museum purchased a historic 1910 rooming house in Seattle’s Chinatown, the first major structure in the neighborhood. Over the years it became largely vacant when the descendants of the early Chinese immigrants who built it were unable to maintain it. 

In 2008 the Wing Luke Museum opened its doors in its rehabilitated home, the East Kong Yick Building. Simultaneously the 2008/9 Great Recession occurred. This was an intensely difficult climate to expand the business, especially in a low-income urban setting. Everybody pulled together and learned fast, resulting in a successful expansion. Today the Museum is recognized as the district’s economic driver, and it programs its business offerings to serve this role. 

Beth served as a board member of the National Museum and Library Services Board (2017-2023), nominated by President Obama in 2016. Former WA state governor Christine Gregoire appointed her a Washington State Arts Commissioner (2009-2015). She was a National Planning Committee member for the Minidoka National Internment Site, which recognizes the U.S. government’s unjust incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent during WWII, including her entire family. 

Beth is a 2011 Salzburg Global Seminars Fellow, one of 56 leaders worldwide discussing museums and libraries in the era of participatory culture. She continues over 21 years of service as a board member for the International District Emergency Center, an emergency response nonprofit serving Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.  

She is a former cellist, with music degree from University of Minnesota/Hunter College. 


Gary Locke, 21st Governor of Washington State, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and American Ambassador to China

As Governor of Washington State (the first Chinese American to be elected governor in United States history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland), U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and America’s Ambassador to China, Gary Locke has been a leader in the areas of education, employment, trade, health care, human rights, and the environment. 

As Washington’s 21st Governor from 1997-2005, the nation’s most trade dependent state, Mr. Locke increased exports of Washington State products and services by leading trade missions to Mexico, Europe, and Asia, more than doubling the state’s exports to China.  

During his tenure, he achieved bipartisan welfare reform and oversaw the gain of 280,000 private sector jobs, despite two national recessions. Mr. Locke also had the most diverse cabinet in state history.  More than half his judicial appointments were women and 25% were people of color.   

His innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority-based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high-risk initiatives, have won him acclaim from nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In his two-terms as Governor, Washington was ranked one of America’s four best managed states. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2009-2011, he led President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double American exports in five years; assumed a troubled 2010 Census process but which under his active supervision achieved the most accurate Census in U.S. history, on time and $2 billion under budget; and achieved the most significant reduction in patent application processing in the agency’s history: from 40 months down to one year. With U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Mr. Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthened national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for high-tech exports. 

As U.S. Ambassador to China from 2011-2014, he opened markets for made-in-USA goods and services; reduced wait times for visa interviews of Chinese applicants from 100 days to 3 days; and through the Embassy’s air quality monitoring program, exposed the severity of the air pollution in China, causing the Chinese people to demand action by the government and the government in turn beginning to address the issue.  

He is currently Interim President of Bellevue College, the third largest higher education institution in Washington State. 

Mr. Locke is Chairman of Locke Global Strategies, providing strategic advice and consulting services to businesses in the U.S. and China across a spectrum of issues including international trade.  

He currently serves on the boards of AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:  AMC), and nLight  (Nasdaq:  LASR).  

Mr. Locke began his career in public service in the Washington State House of Representatives, serving from 1983-1994. He was then elected King County Executive, serving from 1994-1997.    

He is an Eagle Scout and is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He attended Yale University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science and received his law degree from Boston University. 

Lawrence Matsuda, Writer and Poet

Lawrence Matsuda was born in the Minidoka, Idaho Concentration Camp during World War II. He and his family were among the approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese held without due process for three years or more years.  

Matsuda has a Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington and was:  a secondary teacher, university counselor, state level administrator, school principal, assistant superintendent, educational consultant, visiting professor at Seattle University (SU), and school design consultant.  He retired in 2000 from the School District and from Seattle University in 2006.   Currently he is a poet and writer.   

In July of 2010, his book of poetry entitled A Cold Wind from Idaho was published by Black Lawrence Press in New York.  In 2014, Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner was released, a collaboration between Matsuda and artist Roger Shimomura, who contributed 17 original sketches.    

In 2015, Matsuda collaborated with artist Matt Sasaki, and produced two graphic novels:   

An American Hero – Shiro Kashino and Fighting for America: Nisei Soldiers funded by the National Park Service and available through the Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation or the Wing Luke Museum.  The Shiro Kashino animated version won a 2016 regional Emmy and is available online.

Also in 2016, he and Tess Gallagher collaborated on Boogie-Woogie Crisscross, a book of poetry developed from e-mails they exchanged over a period of three years when she was in Ireland and he was in Seattle.  It was reprinted by Cave Moon Press in 2023.    

In 2019, his novel based on his mother’s life, My Name is Not Viola , was published by Endicott and Hugh Books.  His latest book of poetry, Shape Shifter, A Minidoka Concentration Camp Legacy, was released in 2022 by Endicott and Hugh Books and won an honorable mention for the 2022 Idaho Book of the Year award 


Bettie Luke

Bettie Luke is the sister of Wing Luke, after whom Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is named. Her career spans over four decades, during which she has been a champion for diversity and cultural competency. She has conducted diversity training in 36 different states, serving K-12 and higher education institutions, government bodies, and businesses.  

In 1986 and 2011, she organized significant events to commemorate the 1886 Expulsion of Chinese from Seattle and also played a key role in the dedication ceremony of the new Wing Luke Elementary School in August 2021. In September of 2023, she was awarded the prestigious Spirit of America Award by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.  

Luke is also an artist and co-author of two Chinese activity books for children.

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