Beauty after chaos Beauty after chaos Beauty after chaos

The Wing Luke Museum unveils a new mural to help the community heal after an alleged hate crime.

Photos and story by Shin Yu Pai | February 7, 2024

In advance of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, a group that included local leaders and public officials recently gathered in Canton Alley at The Wing Luke Museum. They were there to unveil a mural created in response to an alleged anti-Asian hate crime that damaged the museum late last year. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, ’81, ’84, Governor Jay Inslee, ‘73, and Michael Fong, ’99, director of the state’s Department of Commerce, joined The Wing’s executive director Joël Barraqueil Tan to acknowledge the alleged hate crime and view new artwork designed and created by local artists Sami Hilario and Shea Takabayashi Dailey.

The museum, itself, has many ties to the University of Washington. The community-centered organization hosts student interns and employs many alumni among its curators and managers. Its namesake, Wing Luke, completed both his bachelor’s and law degrees at the UW before going on in the 1960s to become the first person of color on the Seattle City Council.

The unveiling of the artwork touched upon the beauty that is often born out of something horrific or incomprehensible. “We have to understand that hatred still exists across the United States,” said Inslee at the press conference for the murals. On September 14, 2023, a man wielding a sledgehammer shattered the museum’s windows in Canton Alley while making hateful comments. Nine glass windows were destroyed and have now been replaced with vibrant artwork that depicts a colorful pheasant, a symbol of strength and beauty in Chinese culture.

A colorful mural of a pheasant fills two windows of a city building.

Fong spoke about the significance of the Chinatown-International District to his own experiences while Harrell said, “It is our obligation to demonstrate that there is no place for hatred in the city of Seattle or the state of Washington,” and urged citizens to look at the diversity within our culture. Harrell’s office and the Washington Department of Commerce donated $100,000 toward repairing the damage to the Wing Luke’s historic building.

The Chinatown International District’s Lunar New Year Celebration is on Feb. 24. Lunar New Year’s Day is Feb. 10.