The MOCA team headed out into the D.C. area just before the Memorial Day weekend on a mission to do public outreach and research. With so much to do in the D.C., VA, and MD area, we had to pick and choose our destinations and maximize our time meeting with the public and visiting important museums for curatorial research. In total, we visited three libraries and toured two museums in the brief but fun trip down south. Interesting conversations were had, stories were shared, and great food got into our bellies; below are some highlights from our seventh MOCA on the Road trip!
We set out bright and early on the 25th, the team met up and headed down to D.C. via car. Day 1 mission for the MOCA team is to visit select museums specifically for research and inspiration for our own future exhibition plans. Our first destination after arrival was the National Museum of African American History and Culture or NMAAHC for short. We focused mainly on the History Exhibitions, where the team took a lot of notes on NMAAHCs arrangement and display of objects, historical narrative, and also the exhibition pathing. After our tour of NMAAHC, we proceeded north to the National Portrait Gallery and visited the Hung Liu exhibit as well as the Outwin 2022 gallery. Hung Liu was a Chinese-American contemporary artist who passed away last year and the MOCA team have been meaning to see her work before the exhibition ended; we were glad to have been able to catch it just 5 days prior to closing.
Unfortunately, museums aren’t open during night hours, but we settled for the next best thing! We went out for dinner with a Smithsonian employee to talk about the new Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History. Ranald Woodaman is the Exhibitions and Public Programs Director at the Smithsonian Latino Center and he was kind enough to give us insights into his thought process and research when developing the new Latino Gallery exhibit, ¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States. The MOCA curatorial team had a great conversation over a nice Italian dinner along D.C.’s busy 14th street that would undoubtedly help with the development of our own museum exhibitions.
Our second day schedule involved setting up two events with the Fairfax libraries in Virginia, which was about 40 minutes’ drive outside of Washington, D.C. We first set up our MOCA pop-up at the City of Fairfax Regional Library in one of their many meeting rooms kindly reserved for us by the library staff. We followed up with another pop-up event down the road at the George Mason Regional Library, a sibling branch and also part of the Fairfax library system. We set up right by the door to the lobby and attracted the attention of many patrons and staff members on break. The biggest conversation piece from this day was our paper sculpture eagle from our Fly to Freedom collection created by Fujianese refugees of the Golden Venture.
Following the public events, the MOCA team traveled to Rockville, Maryland to check in for the night. We ended up staying near Peter Chang and decided to have some spicy Sichuan food for dinner. Many of our MOCA patrons might recognize Peter Chang as one of the many chefs featured in our previous exhibit Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America back in 2016/17. The food remains just as amazing and the portions seem to have gotten bigger!
The third day was a half day for the MOCA team, we scheduled a public meet and greet event inside the lobby of the beautiful Rockville Memorial Library where we spoke with many of the patrons visiting early in the morning. Some members of Phi Lambda also made an appearance to meet with the MOCA staff to talk about their life stories and potential future collaborations. Many thanks to the Rockville Memorial Library staff for their assistance with setup and providing us a space for us to present MOCA to their patrons.
The Rockville public event concludes our MOCA on the Road mission to D.C., we hope to be back again soon!