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The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center was established in 1997. The Center works to incorporate Asian Pacific American heritages within the Smithsonian Institution's work.
Through exhibitions, programs, research, and collaboration, the APA Center seeks to improve the public's appreciation of the roles of APAs in the history of the nation and empower APA communities by increasing their sense of inclusion into the national culture. The center has provided leadership, vision, and support for APA activities at the Smithsonian and has also served as the Smithsonian's liaison to APA communities. The center's founding director, Dr. Franklin Odo, retired in January 2010. Konrad Ng served as director from 2011 to 2015. Lisa Sasaki was appointed director in November 2016.
In 1997, the Smithsonian Institution established an advisory group headed by Norman Y. Mineta with a mandate to research, deliberate, and then report to Secretary I. Michael Heyman on the Institution's ability to increase and diffuse knowledge about the nation's richly diverse APA communities.
The Asian Pacific American National Advisory Group's final report, released in June 1998, called for the creation of a program for Asian Pacific American Studies. This central program would provide vision, leadership, and support for all APA activities at the Smithsonian, while serving as a liaison to APA communities.
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has had significant impact on how the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex, is evolving to better reflect the diversity of our nation of immigrants and indigenous peoples.