Museum of Chinese in America has evolved into a national cultural center dedicated to preserving and bringing 160 years of Chinese American history to life. With the relocation of the Museum from a former public school on Mulberry Street to its expanded premises, designed by renowned designer Maya Lin, on Centre Street in 2009, MOCA was able to reposition itself as a key institution in New York's vibrant museum scene.
MOCA is far from just a historic look back at the Chinese American experience. To be sure it chronicles the immigration and settlement of Chinese in New York and honors the struggles of these pioneers. But it is also a thriving cultural institution that promotes current Chinese American contributions to the arts, sciences and industry.
Chinatown in lower Manhattan had long been known as a garment center continuing the Chinese tradition of fine tailoring and more mass produced dressmaking. The Chinese American designers featured in this show transcended this legacy to great success in the fashion world by blending their Asian heritage with their own personal aesthetic to create distinctive international style.
Divided into three sections including "Femmes Fatales", "Femmes Savantes" and "Femmes du Monde" the show explores how each of these types of women used fashion and style to express her own Shanghai look. From socialites to students, courtesans to chanteuses, each of these modern women employed dress and accessories to state her role in this evolving society. As well as drawing on MOCA's own collection of posters, magazines and images, "Shanghai Glamour" features twelve exquisite outfits borrowed from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou - on view for the first time in the United States - and several beautiful dresses on loan from private New York collections.
Both of these shows feature noted guest curators and advisory councils drawn from prominent New York museums and each presents a very particular but informative look at Chinese American culture, both past and present. They are on view at MOCA until September 29th.