In 1997, MOCA was able to acquire another large salvage collection. The collection is called the “111 Mott Street” collection, named for the location the collection was acquired from. A Chinese resident of the building had passed away and, with no next of kin, the landlord had thrown all of his belongings away into a dumpster. Museum staff collected the materials and later found dozens of personal letters and household knickknacks.
It wasn’t until an independent researcher named Heather R. Lee began digging into the collection that amazing details of a life came to light. The artifacts belonged to a man named Shuck Wing Chin, who came to the US to earn money for his wife and child back in China. But through the series of salvaged letters, it seemed that he had stopped sending money home and instead fell in love with an American woman.