In the ’60s and ’70s, Chinese movie theaters were prevalent in Manhattan’s Chinatown, usually serving as places for members of the community to gather and reclaim a sense of home by watching films in their mother tongue. But with the rise of technology and the ability to watch films and television at home, the theaters saw a sharp decline in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In 1993, Sun Sing Theater, located on East Broadway, shuttered and remained unoccupied for a time.
In 1996, our staff at MOCA was notified that the East Broadway location had a new tenant and was thus allowed by the city to go in for a short period of time to salvage some materials for our collection. It was during this operation that the museum was able to build our Sun Sing Theater collection, which consists of movie posters, theater staff photographs, account books, theater newsletters, etc.