History of VAAAM

2012 Beginnings of a Virtual Museum

Through a Grand Challenge Grant from the Smithsonian Institution, on March 21 and 22, 2012, representatives from New York University, Getty Research Institute, University of Connecticut, Scalar at the University of Southern California, San Francisco State University, Asia Art Archive, and six Smithsonian units met to discuss the development of a collaborative digital humanities platform for the study of Asian American art history as part of The East Coast Asian American Art Project, an ongoing initiative since 2010 to promote increased scholarship and engagement with Asian American art and history. Participants discussed the creation of a virtual museum and possibilities of collections inter-operability.


2013 Pilot Lab Development

On May 17, 2013, at a day-long meeting sponsored by the Grand Challenge Grant and hosted by A/P/A Institute at NYU, the pilot modules “The Moment for Ink” and “Roger Shimomura” were introduced. The second phase regional modules that were proposed included “Chicago: Midwest,” “Postwar New York,” and “West Coast.” Scalar (an open-source software being developed at the University of Southern California) was identified as a possible software to implement the pilot lab, and on October 17, 2013, the Virtual Asian American Art Museum Project Pilot Lab was presented and discussed at a meeting at the Getty Research Institute.


2014Pilot Lab Launch and Symposium

A 2014 symposium to focus on the shifting transnational frameworks of Asian American art and digital humanities in connection to the A/P/A Institute’s NYU Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange was proposed. This symposium, supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, and an additional working session for VAAAM’s content development was hosted at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Archives of American Art on May 30-31, 2014. Materials from the symposium were included in the inaugural double issue of the peer-reviewed journal the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, which was launched at CAA on February 12, 2015 in New York City).


2016 Building New Scholarship

A 2016 Terra Foundation for American Art grant enabled rigorous research on Chicago-based artists Ray Yoshida, James Numata, Michiko Itatani, and Yasuhiro Ishimoto. On March 17-18, 2016, scholars met at a two-day working session at DePaul University to develop the Chicago-Midwest regional module with a focus on Postwar Japanese American art. The VAAAM team met about the collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago and Japanese American Service Committee Legacy Center, a project partner.


2017-18 Building and Launching the Virtual Museum

Peer-reviewed scholarship is uploaded into TOME, an open source publishing platform, to create the beginning of the museum. Scholars were able to present their work and the first working module on Postwar Japanese American artists in Chicago during the 2018 CAA in Los Angeles.

VAAAM launched in Fall 2018 with Art Design Chicago projects and initiatives. It features dynamically interacting peer-reviewed narratives on Asian American art, history, and culture with curated images, audio, and video components to provide researchers, art educators, and the general public an exciting view into Asian American art.

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, the DePaul Art Museum and Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU co-presented an event to celebrate VAAAM during the Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Someday, Chicago exhibition and as a part of Art Design Chicago programs. The New York launch was hosted on November 8, 2018 at the A/P/A Institute at NYU.


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