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“It was about reclaiming our own history and telling the story we wanted to tell.”

For more than a decade, beginning in 1989, Fay Chew Matsuda led MOCA as its Executive Director. Through her fundraising and extensive community contacts, she established what was initially a grassroots operation on a more permanent footing, and worked tirelessly to preserve a community history that was in danger of vanishing with the fading memories of older generations and gentrification. Her efforts helped build MOCA into the first and still the only museum dedicated to honoring the rich history of Chinese American immigrants in New York City, home to the largest population of ethnic Chinese outside of Asia. During her tenure, the activist and volunteer-staffed Chinatown History Project became the more permanent Chinatown History Museum, and later expanded its mission as the Museum of Chinese in the Americas to reflect the broader origins and trajectories of more recent immigrants. The following staff-produced photographs are in memory and tribute to her work and the milestones Chew Matsuda helped MOCA achieve. They capture her with MOCA staff at Mee Heung Chow Main Company rescuing artifacts to preserve the 64-year history of this longstanding Chinatown business when it permanently shuttered in 1992, at the celebration of the 15th anniversary of MOCA’s founding, at MOCA’s staff and family holiday party in 2000, and at various other MOCA events.

Chew Matsuda grew up in what is now the East Village, the daughter of Chock Nom Chin, a laundryman, and Bick Koon Chin, a garment worker. Her activism in the Chinatown community began during her time at the Basement Workshop, an arts and activism organization that became a hub for the Asian American Movement on the East Coast. Her desire to work in a profession in which she could help people led her to pursue a master’s and initial career in social work with the elderly. She has had a long career serving key roles in community institutions, including at Hamilton-Madison House, the Chinatown Health Clinic (now Charles B. Wang Community Health Center), the Asian American Federation, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is a beloved and missed member of the Chinatown community and we are very thankful to have had her.

1992.005.184 Fay Chew Matsuda speaking to a group of kids. This is at the former 70 Mulberry St., New York, NY location of the Museum of Chinese in America. From the PS 124 AIR Project with Arlan Huang in Spring 1992. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection. 陈丽妃与一群孩子交谈。这是在美国华人博物馆位于茂比利街70号的前址,1992 年春季与 Arlan Huang 的 PS 124 AIR 项目。美国华人博物馆 (MOCA) 馆藏。
994.015.106 Fay Chew Matsuda (center) stands with the two honorees, Marilyn Chou and Jip Foo Chun, at the then Chinatown History Museum’s Second Annual Midsummer Nights Feast on June 21, 1994. Photograph taken by Lia Chang. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection. 1994 年 6 月 21 日,在当时的华埠历史博物馆举办的第二届年度仲夏夜盛宴上,陈丽妃(中)与两位获奖者Marilyn Chou 和Jip Foo Chun站在一起。照片由 Lia Chang 拍摄。美国华人博物馆(MOCA)馆藏。
1995.033.131 MOCA Executive Director Fay Chew Matsuda and longtime MOCA Trustee Member June Jee speak at the podium during MOCA’s 15th Anniversary Legacy Dinner at Harmony Palace Restaurant on June 15, 1995. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection. 1995 年 6 月 15 日,MOCA 执行馆长陈丽妃和 MOCA 长期董事 June Jee 在Harmony Palace Restaurant举行的 MOCA 15 周年纪念传承晚宴上在讲台上讲话。 美国华人博物馆 (MOCA) 馆藏。
2000.030.294 Fay Chew Matsuda at a MOCA staff, family and friends holiday party at 70 Mulberry Street on December 13, 2000. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection. 2000 年 12 月 13 日,陈丽妃在茂比利街70号参加 MOCA 工作人员、家人和朋友的假日聚会。美国华人博物馆 (MOCA) 馆藏。
2002.023.031 Fay Chew Matsuda speaking to members of the Congressional Arts Caucus at 70 Mulberry on April 19, 2002. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection. 陈丽妃于 2002 年 4 月 19 日在茂比利街70号与国会艺术核心小组成员交谈。美国华人博物馆 (MOCA) 馆藏。
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March 2022

2015.037.199 Grace Typond, Douglas Chu's great-grandmother, is on the right. The other women are unidentified. Date unknown. Courtesy of Douglas J. Chu, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection.