Every fan of kung fu knows who Bruce Lee is — a global icon who has often been credited with helping to change the way Asians are portrayed in American films.
What they may not know is that he was more than just an action movie actor. He was also founder of the martial art jeet kune do, as well as film director, philosopher and even a poet.
Lee was born in Chinatown, San Francisco, on Nov 27, 1940 and raised in Kowloon, Hong Kong, with his family until his late teens. He moved to the US at 18 to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where he started teaching martial arts.
That explains why Seattle is such a special place for Bruce Lee and his family, the home of his permanent museum and how Lee came to be buried in the city’s Capitol Hill Lake View Cemetery?
A new exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District – Do You Know Bruce? – offers an even more intimate glimpse of the cultural icon’s daily life.
In its third year, the on-going exhibition is now exploring what it took to be Bruce Lee, from his daily personal habits, routines and work outs to his writings and visual art, reading library and time he spent with family and friends.
Cassie Chinn, deputy executive director at the museum, said her favorite part of the exhibit is the calendar and schedule that shows how Bruce Lee spent his time.
“The third year focuses on what a day in the life of Bruce Lee was really like,” she said. “How did he structure his time? How did he spend his energy? And what did he put all his passion into?”
Displays include poems and little motivation cards Lee had written and his artwork in addition to the calendars. Also, since Lee’s direct roots are in Seattle, you can walk the streets he actually walked, visit the places that were important to him and learn the stories there, according to Chinn.
A fourth generation Chinese American in Seattle, Chinn thinks the exhibition tells stories that not only have meaning for thousands of global visitors each year, but also inspire and impact the community.
“Bruce Lee is a role model for all communities of color around the nation,” she said. “He was there to break the ceiling and show us what else we could be. I love when people tell their stories and say Bruce Lee had changed their lives.”
The exhibition will be extended and continue to the end of the year.