Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill today (May 19) brought to the floor by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), establishing a commission to study the creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. The bill previously passed in the House, where it was introduced by Representative Grace Meng (D-NY), and now goes to President Biden’s desk for his signature. Amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the creation of such a museum would help promote understanding of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) communities and their many contributions to American history and culture.
“Asian and Pacific Islander American communities have made significant contributions to American life. But despite these undeniable contributions, our communities have largely been excluded or erased from American history,” Senator Hirono said in her floor remarks on the bill. “If not invisible, APIA groups are often pejoratively depicted as foreigners instead of people who have lived in and positively contributed to this country for generations. These narratives have fueled xenophobia and racism, contributing to decades of racist laws and discrimination. And most recently, led to a rise in attacks and hate-related incidents against our communities. A National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture would help combat these harmful narratives by sharing APIA history on an unprecedented scale, and we should consider whether or not such a museum would be feasible. With this bill, we can demonstrate our commitment to showcasing the significant contributions that APIA have made to this country.”
Specifically, the bill establishes an eight-person commission, appointed equally by House and Senate Majority and Minority leadership, comprised of individuals with deep expertise in researching, studying, and promoting Asian Pacific American history, museum administration, and other relevant fields. The commission would be responsible for submitting a report with recommendations to the President and Congress on the potential creation of a museum. Congress would then need to act on those recommendations to establish the museum.
Congress has previously established other similar museums. In 2003, Congress passed a law to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2020, Congress passed legislation to create a National Museum of the American Latino.