Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

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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.

Asian Pacific American

Asian-Pacific American (APA) or Asian-Pacific Islander (API) is a term sometimes used in the United States to include both Asian Americans and Pacific Islands Americans.

Smithsonian Institution group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government

The Smithsonian Institution, established on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.


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. [1]

Dr. Franklin S. Odo is a Japanese American author, scholar, activist, and historian. Dr. Odo has served as the director of the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution since the program’s inception in 1997. As the director of the APA Program, Dr. Odo has brought numerous exhibits to the Smithsonian highlighting the experiences of Chinese Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, and Indian Americans. He is also the only Asian Pacific American curator at the National Museum of American History.

Lisa Sasaki is the director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Prior to being appointed in November 2016, Sasaki was director of the Audience and Civic Engagement Center at the Oakland Museum of California and director of program development Japanese American National Museum. From 2001 to 2003, she was a museum curator at the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center in Pueblo, Colorado, and assistant collections manager at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.


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.

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Ira Michael Heyman was a Professor of Law and of City and Regional Planning, and was Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley, and Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

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.



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