SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Closed for months due to the pandemic, the Chinese Historical Society of America is renovated and ready to reopen with the highly anticipated exhibit, “We Are Bruce Lee: Under The Sky, One Family.”
Often referred to as Chinatown’s Museum, visitors here will have the chance to see rarely displayed artifacts including his exercise equipment, drawings and personal items from “The Green Hornet” series.
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It’s a homecoming for Chinese-American kung fu icon Bruce Lee. The global superstar was born in Chinatown’s Chinese Hospital in 1940. His influence has gone far beyond martial arts, movies and TV shows.
“He was a visionary, he saw the power of Chinese-American business and cinema before anyone thought it was possible – thinking about starting your own production studio,” said executive director Justin Hoover. “He was an athlete, so he was more than just a martial artist. He studied boxing, he studied fencing, he studied dance.
Hoover said Lee believed in inclusion and fairness and exemplified it. He experienced racism in Hollywood, where he was the lowest paid on set.
Lee also faced rejection within his own community.
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“Some African-American leaders will say that they really liked Bruce Lee before the Chinese-American community liked Bruce Lee because Bruce Lee was often rejected by the Chinese because he was not as traditional as he was. they would like it.”
Yet Lee insisted on teaching kung fu to all races, male and female. He did it in Oakland.
The exhibition also incorporates new technologies and it is the only museum where you can also break things. Visitors can try their hand at cutting a karate board.
Hoover hopes the updated museum on Clay Street will attract a new, younger generation to Chinatown, which has struggled to recover since the pandemic. It has also seen a wave of anti-Asian sentiment, hatred and violence in recent years.
“Chinatown still faces an existential threat, coming to this museum, shopping at a gift shop, going to a local restaurant, is actually a way to combat this anti-Asian hatred,” Hoover said. “It’s being in the community.”
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For more information, visit chsa.org or wearebrucelee.org.