On Wednesday, August 17th, MOCA Collections team members Anna and Nancy ventured to the hamlet of Chappaqua in Westchester County, New York to engage members of the local community in their very first informative and interactive drop-in session of MOCA On The Road. Below, they have co-written a brief recounting of the event.

Marquee sign advertising the event which greeted the MOCA On The Road team upon their arrival at the Chappaqua Library

Stepping off the train after an hour’s travel north on the Metro-North Harlem Line, our arrival in Chappaqua was greeted by the evening songs of crickets, birds, and other night wildlife in an idyllic setting of lush green thickets and trees, a welcome contrast from the hustle and bustle of the city.

With luggage in tow, we walked a short 7 minutes from the train station to our host institution, the Chappaqua Library, where we were delighted to see the above marquee sign at the entrance giving our MOCA event top billing. Program Coordinator Joan Kuhn was there to welcome us and show us to the newly refurbished theater space, where library staff had set up a couple of long folding tables draped with red tablecloths. They had also graciously prepared coffee and cookies for us and guests as light refreshments.

MOCA On The Road table set-up before the event: Anna and Nancy displayed information placards, handouts, and objects from MOCA’s collections to engage and share with attendees

On the tables we set up the above displays—one featuring information about MOCA’s mission and programs, recently released designs for our museum expansion, and curriculum supplements developed by our museum educators; and the other exhibiting objects from our collection, which sometimes prompted personal stories and recollection of keepsakes passed down in attendees’ own families. The visual materials sparked memories from attendees who grew up in New York City, such as being taken by their parents to the Chinese movie theaters, only being taught about Chinese railroad workers, the Gold Rush, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 in public school, and finally learning about the richness of the Chinese experience in America at university. A few also remembered visiting MOCA many years ago when we were still at 70 Mulberry Street.

All in all, we had a wonderful evening and really enjoyed engaging with each of the thirty-seven members of this small close-knit community who came out to support us as we rebuild and take MOCA on the road after our devastating archives fire. Attendees notably included members of the Chinese Conversation Club of Chappaqua, which was hosted by the Chappaqua Library on Zoom throughout the pandemic, local Organization of Chinese American members, and a famed Chinese American architect. After learning a bit about our museum exhibitions, programs, and collections, we were heartened to hear a number express interest in coming down to visit us at our current 215 Centre Street location. We very much look forward to hosting and returning the warm welcome extended to us by our new friends of MOCA in Chappaqua.