Plans for Chinese Workers Museum move forward |

Plans for Chinese Workers Museum move forward

By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

Plans for the $50 million Chinese Workers Museum of America are moving forward with possible support from the Chinese government and the announcement of a major Chinese cultural festival next spring.

The Carson City project will be the first national museum to celebrate railroad, mining and other work that 19th- and early 20th-century Chinese immigrants did in the West.

Project organizers announced in August they would start raising money to build the museum, which will be near the future V&T tourist train depot. They have since gotten signals from cultural representatives that the Chinese government will help fund the museum, said Art Hannafin, secretary-director of the project.

His company, Hannafin Design Associates, has designed the three-building 80,000 to 150,000 square-foot museum.

Two buildings will be built in a traditional Chinese style while one will be a cone shape, representing the mountain of gold immigrants dreamed they’d find when the came to American, Hannafin said.

Organizers don’t know exactly how much they will get, he said, but the government is excited about the idea, and that’s what’s important.

“We have to play the diplomatic game,” he said.

However, they do know they will get part of the profits from a cultural event, he said, which will include a film festival, appearances from Chinese movie stars and an opera that’s taken seven years to develop.

“My pitch to them is, ‘Look how magnanimous the history is,'” said Khan Tung, a co-founder of the project.

The festival will spend one week in Northern Nevada and one week in Las Vegas, he said.

Organizers of the project are also closer to getting the 80 acres near the corner of Highway 50 East and Drako Way they want for the site.

A federal lands bill allowing Carson City to lease the U.S. Bureau of Land Management land for the museum has been approved, said Open Space Manager Juan Guzman, and it should be ready by around November. The land is being leased because it would cost an estimated $20 million to buy.

The state Legislature has giving $50,000 for planning the project, which was first announced in 2006.

Cheryl Lau, candidate for the District 40 assembly seat and former secretary of state, is chairwoman of the project.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.