A museum called FAMBy Cristina DC Pastor
This was how I explained the Filipino American Museum (FAM) to the hubby when I got home.
Me: I just came from a museum opening, um, except that there is no museum.
H: Huh? What?
Me: It’s an empty room in an old Soho building, has white walls and not much else.
Me: And there’s a performance artist playing sounds using what looked like a vacuum cleaner suction hose, a mike, a wind chime and other stuff. His name is Stephen Decker and he went to Yale.
Me: And it’s packed. I’m guessing 400-plus people trying to figure out where the museum is and what’s going to happen next. It got too stuffy in the room. I was in and out trying to get some air.
H: Why is it called a museum if it’s just an empty room?
Me: That’s what’s on many people’s minds, actually. Mine included. And I asked one of the organizers, a nice lady named Nancy Bulalacao. She said what they have is not a traditional museum with collections and archives and all that but the beginning of one. She said, “Filipinos have asked how come we don’t have a museum for our people?” and she said FAM has sort of “planted the seed.”
Then she talked about how this group of Asian and Filipino cultural leaders got together to provide guidance on how the museum is to evolve. She mentioned names like writer Luis Francia, theater actress Ching Valdes-Aran, lawyer Rio Guerrero and restaurateur Nicole Ponseca.
H: So this so-called museum is now gone?
Me: I’m guessing after the launch, it’s gone. Physically, that is. Nancy said their next event is on December 8 and it will be a gathering of grassroots organizations. It will be in Queens.
H: Why don’t they call it a performance space, pop-up style?
Me: They prefer to be known as a “roving museum,” one that “floats from space to space.”
H: Isn’t that misleading?
Me: Some people thought so. ‘Gimmicky’ was another word I heard. But Nancy has a background in traditional museum. She was former director of Public Programs at MOCA, this Chinese museum by Soho. Very close to my office. Nancy told me MOCA started out as a collection.
H: Isn’t that how most museums start?
Me: She said this is just the beginning for FAM and that “there will be traditional elements later on.”
Me: I guess when they have enough money? Rio Guerrero, one of their advisers, was saying that building a traditional museum requires time and resources and that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
H: Then they should stop calling it a museum because it has no collection.
Me: Who’s to say how we use words nowadays, like ‘tablet’ is no longer aspirin and ‘cloud’ is now a computing system.
H: Were there food, drinks?
H: Then, it should be called a bar.