The Board of Trustees of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience announced on May 14 that longtime executive director, Beth Takekawa, will retire.
Her last day will be July 31.
“I’ve loved getting up in the morning to work at a place that honors my community and ancestors, and is filled with the generations who followed, who won’t allow our stories to be forgotten,” Takekawa said. “When I became executive director 14 years ago, I was so afraid to fail. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that it is the community who truly owns the Wing Luke Museum, and who refused to let the Museum or me fail.”
“Beth’s reputation in the greater museum world is unmatched, said board co-president, Ellen Ferguson. “She inspires all with her humility and passion for making arts and culture accessible to all. We will truly miss Beth.”
In 2008, the Wing Luke Museum completed a successful $23.2 million capital campaign to design, build, and open a new museum home within the historic East Kong Yick Building. Since then, under Takekawa’s leadership, the 54-year-old institution has grown exponentially to a budget of $3.2 million and more than 75,000 visitors in 2019. In 2013, the Museum was recognized as one of two-dozen affiliated areas of the National Park Service. This past year, the Ford Foundation named the Museum as one of America’s Cultural Treasures—a recognition bestowed on 20 cultural organizations for ‘contributions to the diversity of expression and excellence in America.’
“For nearly 25 years, Beth has contributed to the remarkable growth and impact of the museum. The Wing Luke Museum’s steadfast community and national support over the years would not be possible without Beth’s remarkable vision and leadership,” said Jill Nishi, board president.
In addition to her role at the museum, Takekawa serves as a board member of the National Museum and Library Services Board, Washington Courts Historical Society, Downtown Seattle Association, and International District Emergency Center, and as a member of the Community Development Round Table. She was appointed by the governor as a Washington State Arts Commissioner (2009-2015). She is a 2011 Salzburg Global Seminars Fellow, one of 56 leaders worldwide discussing museums and libraries in the era of participatory culture, and a 2014 Puget Sound Business Journal Woman of Influence.
Cassie Chinn, deputy executive director, has agreed to serve as interim executive director, and a national search for a new executive director will be launched.
A community celebration to honor Takekawa’s service will be held this summer on a date to be announced.