Carson City woman Cheryl Lau heads the committee steering the Chinese Workers Museum of America planned for the eastern portion of the city. Born in Hawaii to Chinese parents, she was educated in the United States. Lau served as Nevada secretary of state from 1991-1995. She was Nevada deputy attorney general from 1987-1991. She spent the early 1970s working as professors of both music and English at schools in Taipei.
How did you get involved in the Chinese Workers Museum project?
I was brought in by (architect) Art Hannafin more than two years ago, when I also met Khan Tung. They started talking a bit about where to store Chinese artifacts from historic sites.
They bought me in to see if I'd be interested in working with them on securing the artifacts of the Chinese workers. The museum hadn't even come up yet. This was in the infant stage.
The museum was a way to talk about a repository of these wonderful artifacts that have been found in Northern Nevada of these Chinese workers.
I said I'd be very interested, so that began our meeting and talking about what could be possible.
Is there any other museum in the world that can act as a model for what you'd like to do in east Carson City?
No. The uniqueness of this museum is something that no one has thought of. There is no example in the world.
You are talking about three six-story buildings. The two on the side would be fashioned like the gateways in the Chinese historical cities. The middle (building) would be the six-story conical building that would resemble the gold mountain, which is what the Chinese workers came to us for - to see this gold mountain.
Will you seek expertise from those who have developed similar ethnic and historic-specific museums?
We have looked at museums in Europe but this project will really be unique. We'll get our expertise from our advisory committee and the board of directors.
The board has not been formed yet. The advisory committee would be formed by people from the state government, the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the community colleges and local entities, such as Carson City and even the U.S. government.
The board of directors will be pooled from our cultural, financial and civic communities.
When will the board of directors be chosen?
That's going to be up to the steering committee and the advisory committee. They will identify the potential directors.
Have any sponsors stepped forward?
Not yet because sponsors will be contacted by the board of directors.
How many people could the museum employ?
When thinking about a museum of this magnitude there is going to be quite a few people. Hundreds.
What happens if you don't get your preferred location in east Carson City? which is on BLM land. Do you have any other options?
It looks like it is something that will be very viable; however, if we don't, there are other possibilities in Northern Nevada. We're looking at locations where the Chinese were - where they worked and lived.
Right now we're just working on this possibility. If this doesn't work out - we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Nevada is definitely the location for a museum of this magnitude.
Have any other Chinese groups stepped forward to support the museum?
We expect people to. There have been interested groups and many will be made aware of it through Chinese-language papers.
For information on the project call Hannafin Design at 882-6455.