How to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month in Chicago


This month of May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, giving everyone a chance to experience and celebrate the contributions and cultures of this diverse group. It’s an important time to support your local AAPI community, and there are plenty of ways to do it in Chicago – attend a cultural event, explore an international neighborhood, visit an Asian restaurant or business, and more.

Here’s a roundup of Chicago events, exhibits and beyond to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month 2021.

Events and activities

Ikebana for all with Margot Wang
Create your own masterpiece of flowers and plants just in time for spring by learning the art of Ikebana. This Japanese practice of arranging flowers, branches, leaves and flower stems is an art form that expresses emotion and brings out creativity. The virtual classroom will be broadcast live on May 6.

Meditation for beginners with the Chicago Shambhala Meditation Center
Anyone could take the opportunity to slow down and calm their body and mind. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation and how to practice it, join the Harold Washington Library Center and Chicago Shambhala Meditation Center for a free beginner’s course on Zoom on May 15.

Book Talk: Interior Chinatown A Charles Yu Novel
Join the Chicago Public Library for a discussion about Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown A novel May 22. Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, this New York Times bestseller tackles topics of race, pop culture, immigration and assimilation and is sure to get you laughing along the way.

The art of collage: workshop with Yuqing Zhu
Get creative with a 90-minute workshop on May 22 that celebrates and teaches the art of collage on paper. The workshop will begin with a detailed history of decorative papermaking and collage around the world and end with a hands-on guided session. Students can collect class supplies in advance.

The Chicago Japan Film Collective’s First Japanese Film Festival
To celebrate Japanese filmmakers, join the Chicago Japan Film Collective which will screen nine films from May 25 to 31. With a focus on works created by women, the LGBTQ community, and minority filmmakers, the festival aims to introduce Midwestern audiences to the best. in independent Japanese cinema.

Exhibitions and museums

Oriental Institute
Photo by Michael Tropea

Oriental Institute
Visit the world-famous University of Chicago Museum, which houses 350,000 artefacts spanning 10,000 years of history. Learn about the beginnings of human life and learn how people thousands of years ago forged a collective identity in the ancient Middle East, giving rise to the world’s first villages, cities and empires .

Modernity and nostalgia: Itō Shinsui’s prints
Take a trip to Chicago Art Institute to see the stunning works of Japanese artist Itō Shinsui. The exhibition features prints depicting beautiful subjects and vividly colored landscapes. The collection includes over 10 of Itō Shinsui’s iconic works.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today
Hear from over 30 authors from around the world who celebrate, investigate, and encourage their differences from their unique experiences as immigrants and refugees in America. Exposure to Museum of American Writers was created with the help of author and special advisor Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Cyrus Tang Hall of China at the Field Museum
Explore the intricacies and rich cultural history of the vast country of China and how it has evolved over more than 10,000 years. From cargo salvaged from a sunken merchant ship to bronze weapons dating back to centuries of warring states, there are a variety of artifacts to admire and learn.

American Chinese Museum of Chicago
Celebrating how Chinese-American culture and contributions are an important part of the American fabric, the Chinese American Museum of Chicago has a rotating calendar of exhibitions and events. Currently, his exhibition The era of opulence: Chinese gastronomy, explores the proliferation of Chinese restaurants in the United States and also examines how the pandemic has negatively affected the restaurant industry, especially Chinese restaurants.

Japan Perspectives: A Group Exhibition of Japanese Mosaic Artists
This exhibit at the Edgewater Contemporary Mosaics Gallery will feature Japanese artists specializing in this unique art form. This is the first time that artists from the Mosaic Art Association in Japan have presented their work as a group outside of Japan.

International quarters

Chinese district
From architecture and shopping to some of the best bites in town, Chicago Chinese district reflects both traditional Chinese elements and Western influences. Visit the American Chinese Museum of Chicago, see the Chinatown Nine Dragons Wall on the corner of Cermak and Wentworth, and find your Chinese Zodiac Calendar pet in Chinatown Square. If you want to take a closer look at the history of this historic district, take a 90-minute Chinatown walking tour through the Chicago Architecture Center May 20.

Devon Avenue in West Ridge
On Devon Avenue at West Ridge sits Chicago’s leading South Asian restaurant group with a vibrant mix of cultures and a strong sense of community. From traditional bakeries to clothing stores to international grocers, the Devon Corridor, also known as the “International Market”, welcomes people from the Middle East and South East Asia. Enjoy Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and vegetarian cuisine, plus bookstores, video libraries and more.

Asia on Argyle in Uptown
Located right next to the Argyle Red Line stop at Uptown, you can find a variety of local businesses, family owned restaurants, and supermarkets in what has come to be known as Asia on Argyle. Grab takeaways from Nha Hang or Ba Le Sandwiches and walk to Margate Fieldhouse for a fun picnic in the park. Or, make plans to dine at Sun Wah BBQ for Chicago’s best Peking Duck. Call ahead to reserve your duck, which is table-carved and served as a three-course meal starting with chewy, chewy baos and ending with duck-fried rice.

Companies belonging to the AAPI

This month and every month there are many ways to support local AAPI owned businesses. Check out some of our favorites below and don’t miss our series of interviews with local small business owners.


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