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From Invisible to Visible: The Chinese-American Experience in Albuquerque

On view at Albuquerque Museum through January 6, 2019. Exploring how our city’s Chinese-American community came to be.

From Invisible to Visible: The Chinese American Experience in Albuquerque

From Invisible to Visible



Chinese American Experience collaborator logos

From Invisible to Visible: The Chinese American Experience in Albuquerque is a collaboration with the Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Albuquerque Lodge; the Chinese Institute of Engineers, USA – New Mexico Chapter; and the New Mexico Chinese Association



June 9, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019

"From Invisible to Visible: The Chinese American Experience in Albuquerque" looks at how the city’s Chinese American community came to be and how it continues to occupy a key segment of the city’s social and civic life.

The exhibit is a community-curated project conceived of and designed by members of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance — Albuquerque Lodge, Chinese Institute of Engineers — USA, New Mexico Chinese Association, and Albuquerque Sister Cities Foundation.

The community group organized the exhibit’s narrative around four main themes: making a living, civil rights, education, and community. Most of the artifacts in the exhibit are loans from members of Albuquerque’s Chinese American community, including a tea set, wedding gown, and ephemera from the city’s early Chinese restaurants.

From Invisible to Visible chronicles Chinese immigrants’ arrival in Albuquerque in the 1880s (along with the railroad), the discriminatory laws enacted to exclude them from society, and the ways in which they overcame these circumstances.

In addition to being employed as railroad builders, many Chinese immigrants owned laundry or grocery businesses. Despite—or perhaps in part because of—their importance to Albuquerque’s economy, they faced harsh discrimination by Anglo-American community members. Their mistreatment was sanctioned when Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which forbade the entry of Chinese people to the U.S.

In New Mexico, Chinese immigrants were also denied the right to own property, due to the Alien Land Law, which was passed in 1921. The law was not expunged until 2006. In 1943, the successful striving of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance led to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and three years later, the War Brides Act allowed American soldiers to bring their Chinese wives to the U.S.

Chinese students poured into U.S. colleges and universities after World War II, and many stayed to start careers. Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico employ many of Albuquerque’s Chinese American scientists and researchers. Today, one of every 230 Albuquerque residents is of Chinese descent.



Gallery 6 / The William A. + Loretta Barrett Keleher Gallery.

Details are subject to change. Check back for additional information.