Detroit's Chinatowns

The Robert and Mary Ann Bury Community Gallery is a changing exhibition space made available to local historical societies, museums, non-profit organizations and educational institutions, selected for their contributions to the metro Detroit community. Organizations are featured in order to share their stories and provide new perspectives on the issues, ideas and individuals that have shaped our region’s rich history.

It was officially renamed as a tribute to retiring long-time Executive Director Bob Bury and dedicated in a ceremony on November 1, 2018.   

Our Community Gallery program received the 2020 Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History! Learn more 

 

NOW OPEN through March 24, 2024 in the Robert and Mary Ann Bury Community Gallery

Detroit’s Chinatowns tells the 150-year history of the city's Chinese community, starting with the arrival of an immigrant named Ah-Chee in 1872. A timeline traces the community’s growth, as the city’s first Chinatown came together on 3rd Avenue, just west of downtown, and then relocated to the Cass Corridor due to 1950s urban renewal. What began as a small enclave developed into a flourishing community with thousands of people and a myriad of businesses.

Artifacts, photos, video, original art, and oral histories evoke the restaurants, laundries, retail stores, and other shops that thrived into the 1970s and 80s and illuminate the lives of the immigrant families who ran them. The exhibition features interactive experiences, like a Chinese mahjong table, a world map where visitors can mark their own family’s immigrant roots, and a screening area with video footage from the Detroit Historical Society collection. 

Families from Detroit’s first Chinatown remember attending church and Chinese school, watching Chinese opera and movies, and traveling to Belle Isle to picnic and play mahjong on weekends with hundreds of other Chinese families. Learn more about the adversity that Detroit’s Chinese residents faced, the traditions they cherished, and neighborhoods they called home in this new community-curated exhibition.