Asian American Arts Centre Records

Asian American Arts Centre logo. Three overlapping triangles.
Date Range:
Survey Conducted: Wed, 2009-04-15
Creator: Asian American Arts Centre

The Asian American Arts Centre, founded in 1974 as Asian American Dance Theatre (AADT), is one of the older community arts organizations in New York City Chinatown. The current name, Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC), was adopted in 1987 to encompass both the dance company (AADT) and the visual arts program, Asian Arts Institute, initiated in 1984. AAAC began the Asian American Artists’ Slide Archive in 1982. Artist vertical files were developed and accumulated as a permanent research archive documenting the history of Asian/Pacific American Artists in the United States since 1945 to the present. The archive contains not only slides but also a variety of materials that are both primary and secondary sources from approximately 1,500 artists.

In 1986, AAAC initiated a research project with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation called the “Milieu” series. The project focused on Asian American artists from the post World War era (1945 to 1965), contextualized them and their artwork within this historical setting, and provided a historical precedent for the cultural presence of young Asian American artists. About ninety artists who began their career between 1945 to 1965 were selected and extensive research was conducted for many of them, resulting in extensive documents and materials in their files. Some were interviewed in their native language and documentation from these interviews has also been archived.

In 2007, AAAC created a new archive, the AAAC Artist Archive, from a part of the original slide archive as part of its digitization project. 150 artists who exemplified the major issues that compose the subject of Asian American art were selected and their materials processed for long-term archival preservation. Selected materials from these 150 artists were in turn digitized and made available on the website AAAC’s creation of and commitment to preserve and make accessible its Artist Archive is part of the organization’s greater mission to “promote the preservation and creative vitality of Asian American cultural growth through the arts, and its historical and aesthetic linkage to other communities.”

Sources: Asian American Arts Centre. “Asian American Arts Centre.” Accessed January 29, 2015.

Asian American Arts Centre. “Finding Aid: AAAC Artist Archive.” Asian American Arts Centre Artist Archive. New York.

Summary: The AAAC Artist Archive totals 20 linear feet and documents the presence of Asian American culture in the United States since 1945. This includes the East Coast, especially the greater New York area, some of the West Coast and some artists in Canada, Hawaii, and overseas. The artists include Asian Americans producing art, Asian artists who are active in the United States, and other Americans who are significantly influenced by Asia.

The materials include: 1) an AAAC artist information form if the artist has submitted one; 2) resumes; 3) artist’s statements; 4) interview transcripts if any; 5) obituaries if any; 6) materials from exhibitions held at AAAC (including proposals, fliers, and press releases); 7) materials from exhibitions outside AAAC (including fliers, press releases, brochures, and exhibition catalogs); 8) miscellaneous materials such as correspondences, newspaper and journal articles; 9) images (including CDs/DVDs, photographs, drawings, negatives and positives); 10) slides and slide lists if available; and 11) videos on VHS or CD/DVD. More detailed content description is available in the AAAC Artist Archive finding aid.

Total Size: 20 Linear Feet and 43 Boxes
APA-related Size: 20 Linear Feet and 43 Boxes
Languages of materials: English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other languages.
Arrangement: alphabetical
Location: Asian American Arts Centre offices
Bibliographic Control: finding aid
Conditions Governing Access: Once fully processed, the archive’s records will be generally open to research use. Digitized portion of collection available at

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