Vancouver’s Chinatown is home to the first Chinese Canadian Museum in Canada. The museum celebrates the rich history and culture of Chinese Canadians.
We were impressed when we visited the museum. It’s a fabulous addition to the neighbourhood. The museum is a good size, and full of all kinds of information and artifacts. We learned so much from our visit! If you go to Chinatown, we highly recommend checking out the museum.
Visit chinesecanadianmuseum.ca for the venue’s official website.
Chinese Canadian Museum in Chinatown
The Chinese Canadian Museum is the first of its kind in Canada. It proudly showcases Chinese Canadian history and culture.
The museum first opened to the public at a temporary location in the fall of 2020. It was inside the Hon Hsing Athletic Club at 27 East Pender Street until the spring of 2023.
As of the summer of 2023, the museum’s new home is a few doors away at the historic Wing Sang Building at 51 East Pender Street. It’s the oldest building in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The Chinese Canadian Museum opened at this new permanent location on July 1st in 2023.
The museum is full of information about the history of people of Chinese descent in Canada. Chinese Canadians have had an enormous and very positive impact on this country, but they have also faced all kinds of discrimination over the years. Chinese immigrants have in the past been taxed, been paid far less than other workers, and even been banned from entering Canada.
Despite these hardships, thousands of Chinese immigrants helped make this country, British Columbia and the City of Vancouver what it is today.
In addition to all its various displays, artifacts and information, a nice thing about the museum is that it’s very hands-on. There are things you can touch and pick up. There are drawers to open with extra pieces to look at, personalized stories and films to watch. All around, it’s a very good museum.
The Chinese Canadian Museum has display rooms on three different floors, all of which are connected by both stairs and an elevator. The entire facility is wheelchair accessible. Some of the displays are permanent, but most change annually (which makes it worth going back for another visit the following year).
As of the summer of 2023, in the first room at the museum you can hear and learn about the stories of Chinese migrations. In another room, you’ll see identity documents and learn about the paperwork Chinese Canadians had to have. You’ll also learn about the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act (a.k.a. the Chinese Exclusion Act).
In another room you can watch a film, and on the third floor, you can see what a 1930s living room of a well-to-do Chinese Canadian looks like as well as the original school classroom which was part of the building in the 1900s.
Featured exhibitions as of the summer of 2023 include The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act, Odysseys & Migration, and Period Rooms: Historic School Room & Living Room. All are very different and interesting in their own ways.
To book your visit, and for full details, visit Chinese Canadian Museum website.
Museum Hours and Admission
The Chinese Canadian Museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus holiday Mondays. It operates from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, with last entry at 4:30 pm.
As of July 2023, admission to the museum costs the following:
- Adults (ages 19+) – $15
- Youth (ages 6 to 18) – $10
- Students (with student ID) – $12
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $12
- Children (ages 5 & under) – Free
There are also group rates. With a minimum of 10 people, adults are $12 and youth, students and seniors cost $10.
Annual memberships are also available for the following prices:
- Adults (ages 19+) – $32
- Youth (ages 6 to 18) – $25
- Students (with student ID) – $25
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $25
Members can visit the museum as often as they like for a full year. They also receive one complimentary admission for a guest (so they can invite a friend for free one day). Members also get a 10% discount on gift store items as well as member pricing for special events.
Tips & Advice
Below are some suggestions and extra information to help you make the most out of your visit to the museum.
TIP#1: If you go to Chinatown, we definitely recommend you check out this museum. It’s a very good museum.
TIP#2: Go on one of the museum’s guided tours if you can. The tours of the museum last for about 45 minutes and are included with general admission. They take place in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. As of the summer of 2023, the tours in English happen on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Click Museum Tours for more details.
TIP#3: Expect to be at the museum for between about an hour and two hours, or more if you plan to take a tour and read everything. The average person is probably at the museum for a couple of hours. Some people though stay for half the day!
TIP#4: Be sure to open all the drawers and cabinets. There are things to see and read inside. You are welcome to touch things. With the Period Rooms exhibit in 2023, you can even put a record on the old record player and listen to the music and sit on the furniture.
TIP#5: While in the area, you might also want to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden which is less than a 2-minute walk from the museum. Also, we highly recommend the Historical Chinatown Tours with Judy Lam Maxwell.
TIP#6: The museum also has a location in Victoria, BC. It’s in Victoria’s Chinatown at #10-14 Fan Tan Alley. The museum there is open Thursdays to Mondays from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm and admission is by donation.
For additional information about the museum, see the Chinese Canadian Museum website.
Other articles that might be of interest include:
- Vancouver’s Chinatown
- Educational Places in Vancouver
- Vancouver History and Culture
- City of Vancouver
- Vancouver Rainy Day Activities
Festivals and events with an East Asian theme you might enjoy in Vancouver at various times of the year include the following:
- Chinese New Year Parade – a large parade in Chinatown in January or February (depending on when the Lunar New Year occurs).
- Lunarfest Vancouver – a series of events celebrating the Lunar New Year in Vancouver.
- Lunar New Year at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – the garden in Chinatown hosts a special event to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
- Taiwanfest – a festival in downtown Vancouver on the Labour Day Long Weekend in September.
- Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Festival – a multicultural festival featuring music, dancing and food from late June until early July.
- Vancouver Chinatown Festival – a free cultural festival featuring food, market vendors and live entertainment in Chinatown in July.
Photos in this article without the Vancouver’s Best Places’ logo are by Koby Photography and courtesy of the Chinese Canadian Museum.