Mapping Our Heritage Project

Wandering the streets of New York City's Chinatown and observing the diverse architecture and dramatic streetscape, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “If these walls could talk, what would they say?” The Museum of Chinese in America begins to take the guesswork out of the question in its Mapping Our Heritage Project – a pioneering three-dimensional, interactive map of New York’s “Old Chinatown” district. Mapping Our Heritage Project is a national model for how technology can be applied to a neighborhood’s cultural and historical preservation.

Mapping Our Heritage Project is a collaborative effort between MOCA, New York University Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program & Institute, Environmental Simulation Center, and Resolution Seven. The team created a fully interactive virtual kiosk that provides people with access to a range of information on Chinatown – such as statistical and biographical data, historical photos, documents, individual oral histories, and artifacts. Visitors engage with an 8-block area of New York known as historic “Old Chinatown” by clicking on or “visiting” an address to not only see artifacts, photos, documents, and oral histories connected to that place, but also to submit their own personal accounts and memories of Chinatown. This format provides a new way of exploring and writing the history of Chinese Americans in New York and expands the public’s participation in the ongoing process of reclaiming and interpreting the community’s diverse cultures and histories.

 

Initial support for the Mapping Our Heritage was made possible with the generosity of the National Endowment for the Art, Resources for Change Technology Grant; the Chevron Texaco Foundation; and Verizon.