Life of a Collection
After Bocian’s death, Mae Wong happened upon the photographs and some personal belongings in Bocian’s apartment, which she saved until the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) had space for them. At that time, the collection was stored haphazardly in shoeboxes, shipping cartons, and cigarette boxes. Due to the sheer size of the collection, it was a daunting task to organize, and Bocian’s photographs remained unseen for another 30 years. In 2016, MOCA received a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) that enabled staff to arrange and rehouse the items.
While most photos in the collection had no description beyond a date, some were captioned by Bocian on slips of paper taped to the back. In most cases, the information is unverifiable.