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AAPI Washtenaw Oral History Project - Cynthia Yao

Photo of a Chinese American woman with gray hair and glassesCynthia Yao was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where her parents settled after immigrating from China. In 1959, she moved to Boston to attend Emmanuel College. She met Edward York-Peng Yao who was at Harvard finishing his PhD in Physics. They married and came to Ann Arbor where they raised four children: Michelle, Mark, Steven and Lisa. She received a Master of Museum Practice from the University of Michigan in 1979. She was inspired by science centers and children's museums that she visited with her children. Yao proposed to the city a museum in the former firehouse building and worked with many community members to create the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum which opened on October 13, 1982. She served as Executive Director for 18 years. 

Note: Cynthia and Ed’s eldest daughter Michelle passed away in 2022, after the recording of this interview. All four of their children have successful careers–three became doctors, and one became an engineer.

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Hands-On Museum Goes To The White House

Hands-On Museum Goes To The White House image
Month
July
Year
1990

In 1990, Cynthia Yao represented the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum at the White House to receive an IMS-GOS (Institute of Museum Services General Operating Support) award. First Lady Barbara Bush made the announcement of 390 museum recipients nationwide.

Project Grow Would Grow

Project Grow Would Grow image
Parent Issue
Day
27
Month
September
Year
1972
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Engineering Departments Get Grants

Engineering Departments Get Grants image
Parent Issue
Day
16
Month
November
Year
1972
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Scientists At U-M Awarded NSF Grants

Scientists At U-M Awarded NSF Grants image
Parent Issue
Day
10
Month
September
Year
1975
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Grant To Help Research Project

Grant To Help Research Project image
Parent Issue
Day
1
Month
March
Year
1978
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4 named to Academy of Arts and Sciences

4 named to Academy of Arts and Sciences image
Parent Issue
Day
11
Month
June
Year
1980
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Professor gets Fulbright grant

Professor gets Fulbright grant image
Parent Issue
Day
2
Month
September
Year
1984
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Six Women Students are Awarded Grants

Six Women Students are Awarded Grants image
Parent Issue
Day
20
Month
December
Year
1980
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Copyright Protected