Virtual Asian American Art Museum (VAAAM)


The Virtual Asian American Art Museum (VAAAM) is a multi-year, inter-institutional digital humanities project initiated and led by the following major partners: the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, NYU Libraries, Getty Research Institute, Smithsonian Institution, DePaul University, Bowdoin Art Museum, San Francisco State University, Artl@s/BasART, and Japanese American Service Committee in Chicago.

VAAAM also worked in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago for the museum’s inaugural regional module “Chicago-Midwest.” The scholarly content for the inaugural module was generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and through its initiative Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design history and legacy.

Rather than a “bricks and mortar” museum, VAAAM presents curated materials from US and international repositories to visualize, analyze, and contextualize Asian American art history. VAAAM facilitates the discussion of key topics emerging from the developing discourse of digital art history, American art, national and international standards for museum and institutional collection sharing, and digital access while fostering the transnational narrative of Asian American art.

The site launches in Fall 2018 with Art Design Chicago, and features dynamic interactive peer-reviewed narratives on Asian American art, history, and culture.The curated images, audio, and video components provide researchers, art educators, and the general public with exciting perspectives on Asian American art.

The “Chicago-Midwest” module launches with content focused on the topic of Postwar Japanese Art in Chicago curated by lead module curator Laura Kina (DePaul University) and scholars Jasmine Alinder (University of Wisconsin), John Tain (Asia Art Archive), and Karen Patterson (The Kohler Arts Center). The “Chicago-Midwest” module features:

  • “Chicago: Someday, Somewhere — the Photography of James Numata and Yasuhiro Ishimoto” curated by Jasmine Alinder, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; John Tain, Asia Art Archive
  • “Ray Yoshida’s Museum of Extraordinary Values” curated by Karen Patterson, John Michael Kohler Arts Center
  • “Michiko Itatani: Painting the Cosmic Novel” curated by Laura Kina, DePaul University


  • VAAAM Project Director Alexandra Chang, Curator of Special Projects & Director of Global Arts Programs, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University
  • VAAAM Technology Coordinator Alexei Taylor
  • VAAAM Digital Technology Director David Millman, Assistant Dean for Digital Library Technology Services, New York University
  • VAAAM Art + Education Director Dipti Desai, Associate Professor and Director of the  Graduate Art + Education Programs, Steinhardt, New York University

VAAAM Advisory Committee

  • Jasmine Alinder, Associate Professor of History and coordinator of Public History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Anne Collins Goodyear, Co-Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
  • Ilene Fort, Senior Curator and Gail and John Liebes Curator, American Art at LACMA
  • Mark Johnson, Professor of Art, San Francisco State University
  • Laura Kina, Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University
  • Adriel Luis, Curator for Digital and Emerging Media, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
  • Margo Machida, Professor Emeritus of Art and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut
  • Sojin Kim, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
  • Tara McPherson is Associate Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts
  • Joanne Moser, Former Deputy Chief Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Karen Patterson, curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • Béatrice Joyeux Prunel, PI, Artl@s/BasART, Associate Professor for Contemporary Art at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris
  • Noriko Sanefuji, Museum Specialist at the National Museum of American History
  • John Tain, Head of Research, Art Asia Archive, Hong Kong
  • Michael Takada, CEO, Japanese American Service Committee
  • Ryan Yokota, Legacy Center Manager, Japanese American Service Committee

History of VAAAM

This new scholarship on Chicago-based content has been supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of the foundation’s initiative Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design history and legacy.