Interactive exhibit brings Bruce Lee’s book collection to life

Before Bruce Lee became an international superstar known for creating his own style of martial arts and starring in films alongside legends such as Hall of Famer basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lee was an 18-year-old boy who competed in Ruby Chow’s restaurant operated on Broadway, where he also rented an attic room.

Now the Wing Luke Museum, which features artifacts from Lee’s life and has hosted exhibitions related to his story, is collaborating with the Bruce Lee Foundation to present a new exhibition, Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. opens Saturday.

The exhibition features interactive displays and graphics that allow audiences to immerse themselves in Lee’s teachings as they journey through his personal journey of discovery of his famous philosophy of mind, body and spirit.

“We’re really excited because this is the first interactive exhibit we’re doing,” said Lee’s daughter, Shannon, President and Founder of the Bruce Lee Foundation. The Wing Luke Museum currently houses Bruce Lee’s collection of 2,800 books. Lee himself has studied these books, which cover topics from physical combat to philosophy and self-help, and also include interesting titles like Slimnastics.

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The idea for this new exhibition came from Shannon Lee’s attempt to convey to the public the importance of her father’s extensive book collection. Lee’s collection, on physical display throughout the exhibition, gives audiences a unique insight into the titles Lee studied on his own journey to self-enlightenment.

“We’re trying to express his views on his philosophical idea of ​​being like water through his book collection,” Lee explained.

The name of the exhibition “Be Water, My Friend” was a phrase Bruce Lee often said, and it is the title of the book Shannon Lee wrote to explore her father’s teachings and philosophies. Released in 2020, the book uses her father’s teachings to guide readers down a path to personal growth.

The new exhibition uses Bruce Lee’s notes and quotes from his personal book collection to guide audiences through his teachings with interactive art and graphic installations.

The creative team behind this new exhibition includes interactive designers of the award-winning Meow Wolf experience – an interactive, hands-on, fully immersive art experience that makes the audience feel like they’ve been transported to a psychedelic alternate reality.

This partnership produced an exhibition that combines physical artifacts—like Lee’s books, his handwritten notes, his old boxing gloves—with interactive displays that audiences activate by stepping onto lighted platforms. These platforms, accompanied by soothing water sounds, showcase quotes Lee made in his books and activate images and videos that show how Lee incorporated those quotes into his life.

Caption: An interactive portion of the Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee exhibit will be on display at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle on Friday, July 8, 2022.  The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 9 July.

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Ruce Lee, who died in 1973 at the age of 32, was known not only as a martial artist and actor, but also as a philosopher, and here in Seattle especially – as a civil rights advocate.

Lee’s Seattle studios were known for being open to all people, and Charlette LeFevre, director of the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore, remembers Lee as someone who helped fight racism in Seattle.

“[Lee’s] The first US student was Jesse Glover,” LeFevre said. “He was a black man who was beaten up by two Seattle cops and wanted to learn how to defend himself.” Glover later became Lee’s first assistant teacher in the United States and influenced Lee’s learning about the oppression of African Americans in the United States

Lee’s story of fighting for the oppressed is also what excites Wing Luke Museum executive director Joël Barraquiel Tan about the new exhibit.

“I’m particularly inspired by this exhibition at this time because we’re living in a time where we have fewer civil rights than we had when Bruce Lee was alive,” said Barraquiel Tan.

Tan says he hopes revisiting Lee’s philosophies and teachings at this point will inspire visitors.

“I think it’s timely and exciting that we’re going to revisit him [Lee’s] Values ​​and philosophies so we can draw inspiration from them to activate, respond to and protect our communities and protect our civil rights,” he said.

Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee opens July 9, 2022 at the Wing Luke Museum.

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