Seattle/ Arts & Culture
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Published on May 30, 2024
Staff Walkout Over "Confronting Hate Together" Exhibit Shuts Down Wing Luke Museum in SeattleSource: Google Street View

The Wing Luke Museum remains shuttered today as the fallout from a staff walkout continues to keep the cultural cornerstone of Seattle's Chinatown-International District in limbo. Nearly half of the museum's employees exited on May 23 to protest against an upcoming exhibit, "Confronting Hate Together," causing the establishment to close its doors unexpectedly. According to South Seattle Emerald, employees took issue with portions of the exhibit that linked anti-Zionism to antisemitism.

The exhibit was set to showcase a partnership between the museum, the Washington State Jewish Historical Society (WSJHS), and the Black Heritage Society of Washington State but faced a barricade put up by the museum's staff, who claimed the curation went against the institution’s mission and their personal beliefs. Disgruntled staff members claimed on Instagram, "We love the Wing Luke Museum and are consistently honored to steward the stories of our community members, many of whom have experienced destructive harm," as reported by KOMO News. The statement expressed concerns that the exhibit's perspectives might bolster colonial and white supremacist ideologies.

Staff members further claimed that the normal procedure for vetting exhibits, which typically includes extensive reviews and involves both staff and community advisory committees, was sidestepped for this particular exhibit. "Because if it had, the staff wouldn’t have been surprised last week when we saw this text panel in question that very much concerned us," stated a staff member in an interview that sought anonymity in a South Seattle Emerald report, hinting at serious internal communication breakdowns.

The Wing Luke Museum had announced its intent to reopen and relaunch the contested exhibit in due time, emphasizing communication with staff as an ongoing priority. "The museum supported the right of its staff to 'express their beliefs and personal truths,'" a museum spokesperson stated, reflecting the complexity of reconciling internal disputes over sensitive subject matter in public institutions as reported by KOMO News. As of yet, no specific date for the reopening has been confirmed, leaving the future of "Confronting Hate Together" and the museum's schedule in a state of uncertainty.