The first Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives exhibit for the year 2023 will be The Cheongsam: Margaret Woo and the Mai Wah. The exhibit features 12 cheongsam dresses owned by the late Margaret Woo. Fashionable in the 1930s, Margaret wore these dresses to events and parties while attending Lingnan University in China, shortly before she returned to the United States following the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

In addition to these elegant dresses, the exhibit also features panels on the Woo family restaurant in Minneapolis, where Margaret worked and later met her husband, Howard Y. Chinn, of Butte. Yuen Faung Low, also known as John’s Place, was a landmark Minneapolis restaurant for over 80 years.

Born in China and raised in America, Margaret Woo’s life marks a departure from the traditional Chinese values of her mother and father’s generation. From cotton and polyester to silk and velvet, these cheongsams are a diverse sampling of popular dress in the pre-World War II period in both China and the United States. The dresses are on loan from the Mai Wah Society, a Butte-based nonprofit organization that has been working to preserve and interpret Butte’s Asian history since 1991.

The exhibit will be open to the public from January 30th through April 7th during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 9AM-5PM. For more information, please call 406-782-3280.