A joint project by History San José and the Chinese Historical & Cultural Project to share the stories of Chinese Americans in Santa Clara Valley, the museum building is a reconstruction of the original Ng Shing Gung (Temple of the Five Gods) that served as a community center for the Chinese American community. Inside, the first floor of the museum explores the experiences of Chinese Americans in Santa Clara Valley from the mid-19th century through today. The second floor features the altar from the original Ng Shing Gung.
The Ng Shing Gung was built in 1888 in “Heinlenville,” at Taylor and Cleveland Streets in San José, to serve as a cultural and religious center for San José’s Chinese community.
“Ng Shing Gung” means “Temple of Five Gods” and was named for the five divinities whose statues were housed within: Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy; Choi Sun, God of Wealth; Cheng Huan, the Canton City God; Kwan Gung, God of War and Justice; and Tien Ho, Queen of Heaven.
The ground floor originally functioned as a community center with a Chinese calligraphy and literature classroom for children. An elaborately carved and gilded altar stood on the second floor.
The original Ng Shing Gung was demolished in 1949. However, the altar, furnishings and a portion of the facade were saved and formed the core of the exhibit completed by the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project in 1991 at History Park. The Chinese American Museum at the Ng Shing Gung houses exhibits and Home Base: A Chinatown Called Heinlenville, a video depicting the life and contributions of the Chinese Americans in the Santa Clara Valley.
The Museum is located in History Park at 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, and is open most weekends between 12 and 5 pm. Admission to the museum is free; park admission may be charged during special events.