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Morikami Museum offers new interactive exhibits as AAPI Heritage Month kicks off

'I think there's still work to do to make sure we are understood,' curator of education Wendy Lo says
Posted at 11:14 AM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-12 11:14:37-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — History, culture and tradition — it's what Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is all about.

Since it opened 47 years ago, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens west of Delray Beach has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida.

Starting this month, the community can immerse themselves inside a new interactive exhibit at the museum.

"We have the opportunity 365 days a year to be able to bring this to our community," museum director Bonnie LeMay said. "Numbers wise there's a very small percentage not only here in our local community but throughout the state. There's only 3% Asian population."

Bonnie LeMay (right) explains to WPTV reporter Brooke Chau the new exhibit offered at Morikami starting in May.
Bonnie LeMay (right) explains to WPTV reporter Brooke Chau the new exhibit offered at Morikami starting in May.

While walking through the plush gardens at Morikami, curator of education Wendy Lo reflected on what this month means for AAPI heritage.

She said it's important to remember that AAPI heritage doesn't last for just one month, it is year-round.

"I think there's still work to do to make sure we are understood, heard and we are still represented because when people think of South Florida, they think of Latin Americans, but this area is really an international melting pot," Lo said.

Wendy Lo discusses the Asian American influence on South Florida's vibrant culture.
Wendy Lo discusses the Asian American influence on South Florida's vibrant culture.

In an effort to educate and honor AAPI heritage, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is giving guests a chance to get involved with some new exhibits that will be offered throughout the summer.

One of them is called the "Hapa.Me" exhibit where a photographer had Asian Americans write a personal statement answering the question, "What are you?" and then snapped a self-portrait.

Fifteen years later, he followed up and did the same thing.

Carla Stansifer (left) explains to WPTV reporter Brooke Chau the new exhibit offered this summer at Morikami.
Carla Stansifer (left) explains to WPTV reporter Brooke Chau the new exhibit offered this summer at Morikami.

"He encouraged everyone to be brave when participating 15 years ago," Carla Stansifer at the Morikami Museum said. "We also have an interactive component on the weekends where you can have an instant photo taken and write your own statement and be a part of the exhibit too."

Click here for more information on the exhibits, museum and garden or call 561-495-0233.

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is located at 4000 Morikami Park Road near Delray Beach.