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Museum Of Chinese In America Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Major Comeback

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The Museum of Chinese in America is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and a major comeback.

In January, fire destroyed 70 Mulberry Street, the building that housed the museum's archives and artifacts.

MORE: Pieces Of Chinese History Salvaged Following Massive Chinatown Fire, Though Asbestos Halts Work

Those that were recovered have been moved to what's being called the MOCA Workshop just around the block from the museum.

"All of our collections were all over the place, 85,000 items. We weren't sure where they were, if they would be salvaged, and this is the beginning of a new tomorrow for that," said Nancy Yao Maasbach, president of the museum. "Everything is coming back. It has been stabilized, and this space will be open to the public. It's amazing."

For a short time, the public is invited to the MOCA Workshop to see the items that have been repaired from fire damage.

A Chinese typewriter is one of the objects on display at the MOCA Workshop. (Credit: CBS2)

Henry Tang, who is on the MOCA advisory board, donated a Chinese typewriter that the family found after a relative passed away.

"Upon his death, we found this among his possessions," he told CBS2's Cindy Hsu. "We found it under the bed."

Tang says it's more than 100 years old.

"In the west, it's only one of three known machines, according to a Stanford professor," he said.

The MOCA Workshop is filled with items that help tell the history of Chinese in America.

CBS2 got a behind-the-scenes look at the room where boxes are filled with artifacts that still need to be repaired.

Yue Ma is MOCA's director of collections and research.

She showed CBS2 a wok that came from the first Chinese restaurant in Boston, a musical instrument used in Chinese opera and school records for children from Public School 23 from decades ago.

Paper art sculptures are some of the items at the MOCA Workshop. (Credit: CBS2)

"This is really fragile, but you can see the student was born in 1911," Ma said, pulling out one record.

The team is also restoring paper sculptures made by Chinese men who ended up in detention centers after smugglers tried to get them to the U.S. aboard the Golden Venture cargo ship that ran aground in Queens nearly 30 years ago.

The men folded tiny pieces of paper to create art, which they gave as gifts to those who tried to help them.

What you're able to see at the MOCA Workshop tells the story of history that needs to be preserved.

The public is invited to see the artifacts through Oct. 18. Tickets, which are free, must be reserved in advance.

For more information and to reserve free tickets, click here.


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