Press Release (09/14/10): Museum of Chinese in America -- Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers

Museum of Chinese in America
Lee Mingwei’s
The Travelers
Project launches: September 22, 2010
Exhibition opens: November 2011


Download a PDF of this press release: English | 中文新闻稿.

September 14, 2010, New York, NY — On the day of the Chinese Moon Festival, September 22, 2010, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) launches Lee Mingwei’s artist project, The Travelers.

Lee custom-made 100 blank notebooks for the project. The books are released into the world from MOCA, and will travel around the world for one year. The books are passed from person to person like a chain letter, with each participant adding a personal story about “leaving home” at some point in their lives. Did they have a call to adventure? Did they leave willingly? Did they overcome setbacks? Did they ever return home? Each book becomes a “Traveler” in the project, who leaves the MOCA “home village” to embark on a long journey.

The project was commissioned by MOCA to launch on the first anniversary of its new home at 215 Centre Street, designed by Maya Lin. Inspired by the museum’s mission to document the epic journey of Chinese to America, and the ongoing journeys we make as Americans, the project was envisioned to actively engage the public in the spirit of MOCA’s approach over the past 30 years as a “dialogic museum”.

Participants are asked to send the books back to MOCA by the next Moon Festival, on September 12, 2011. The books that make it back to the museum, each transformed by their individual journeys, will be displayed in an evocative installation by Lee Mingwei, with all the accumulated stories accessible for visitors to read. How many Travelers return home? What kinds of stories will they be filled with on their return?

A companion website to the project ( also launches on September 22, 2010, and will track all the books as they travel around the world. Project participants are asked to upload the current geographical location of the books, and 5 images that illustrate the story they’ve written in the book.

About the Artist
For the past ten years Lee Mingwei has worked as a conceptual artist, creating installations that depend on the exchange of intimate experiences between artist and viewer. He has continually focused on themes of trust and self-awareness in projects that create a potential for active exchange. Lee creates projects that test the limits of when and where such transformative experiences may take place, and has sensitively framed aspects of everyday life into experiences of potential discovery and renewal.

Lee was born in Taiwan, and currently lives and works in New York City and Berkeley, California. His work has been exhibited in the United States and internationally, including the Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Fabric Workshop & Museum (Philadelphia), Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Albion Gallery (London), Biennale de Lyon, and Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial, among others. For more information on the artist, please visit:

Project Support
The Travelers is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The project is also made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties. It is also supported by the generosity of museum members.

About MOCA
The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is the leading national museum dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and culture of people of Chinese descent in the United States. From its Maya Lin-designed home on the border of Chinatown and SoHo in New York City, MOCA collects and displays historical and cultural artifacts, and organizes traveling exhibitions, classes, discussions, and events that explore all aspects of the Chinese American experience in the United States. MOCA began as a community-based organization founded in 1980 by Chinese American artists, historians and students who felt that the memories of first-generation “old-timers” in Chinatown would be lost without oral history, photo documentation, research, and collecting efforts. Now a resource for historians and community members alike, the Museum has evolved into a national keeper of cultural information and an influential voice in the ongoing history of Chinese and Chinese American culture across our country. The Museum’s original location (which will continue to be used for archives and collections) is in the heart of Chinatown on the second floor of the historic, century-old school building that was once Public School 23. For more information, visit

Museum hours:

Monday: 11am-5pm

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: Closed

Thursday: 11am-9pm

Friday: 11am-5pm

Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday: 10am-5pm

The Museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for prescheduled group tours and special programs.



General Admission: $7

Seniors (w/ID) and Students (w/school ID): $4

Children under 12 in groups less than 8: free

MOCA Members: free

Target Free Thursdays: Free gallery admission every Thursday through the generosity of Target

MOCA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization supported by its members, individual donors, and by public and private funds.
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Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

Cynthia Lee, 212.619.4785 x4145 (English)
Ting-Chi Wang, 212.619.4785 x4148 (Chinese)