Herstory – The Legal History of Chinese American Women
March 9, 2019 – June 1, 2019
The earliest Chinese American women who came to the U.S. in 1785 were mostly merchant’s wives and housemaids. In the following 165 years, these women pioneers established an impressive legal history. They not only fought to become American citizens but also fiercely fought for their right to be treated with dignity as human beings. Our exhibit showcases the legal milestones and often harrowing stories of these brave women. Before their lives and accomplishments are completely lost in the annals of history, we aim to tell her story. We finally give voice to those Chinese American women who paved the way for our past, present and future. This is a grand departure from the typical exhibit with historical posters and documents. Art speaks louder than words! Through video, sound and painting, the exhibit is an unprecedented multi-media art installation meant to memorialize and celebrate these courageous Chinese American women.
For the duration of its run, this exhibition was open to the public for tours, which were held on weekends, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
World in Porcelain
September 15, 2018 – March 14, 2019
The SDCHM was the first Museum in the United States to host “World in Porcelain: 16th – 19th Century Export Porcelain,” showcasing a private collection of export porcelain. Porcelain was one of China’s primary trading exports during the Maritime Silk Road period that lasted for more than 300 years. For the duration of its run, the museum invited visitors to be among the first in the country to view this collection of plates, vases, bowls and more as a symbol of Chinese culture, history and art.
The Paintings of Yihong Zhou
June 24 – August 16, 2018
This exhibition featured Yihong Zhou, a contemporary Chinese painter whose primary focus is portraiture. Classically trained, Zhou studied at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, earning his Bachelor of Arts from the Faculty of Oil Painting in 1983. Rejecting the portraiture trends set by his contemporaries, Zhou sought to follow his own path in creating his own unique style. Rather than confining himself within the bounds of any single technique, Zhou instead gained inspiration from his subjects and their settings, allowing them to dictate his brushwork. The result is work replete with expressive strokes that truly capture the essence of the moment. Accordingly, his portraits provide a glimpse into the daily life of Chinese citizens from the last few decades, portraying moments of time captured expertly in the fast-paced and ever-changing environment of modern day China.
The Life & Deeds of Dr. Shih-Liang Chien
February 22 – April 8, 2018
As a part of the Living Legends Series, the SDCHM’s exhibition focuses on Dr.
Shih-Liang Chien, his family, and their precepts, or family rules for living. Precepts are
an important part of Chinese heritage, and Dr. Chien’s family, from the Chien kingdom,
has been following these precepts for generations. The Chien family comes from
generations of royalty and scholars in China and Taiwan, and the exhibit explores the
family tree with many rare artifacts.
One of his sons, Shu Chien, was one of the SDCHM’s first board chairs and is now an award-
winning professor of bioengineering and medicine at UC San Diego. He was awarded a
National Medal of Science by President Obama in 2011 for his pioneering research on
the flow of red blood cells. The museum welcomed him on February 22, 2018 during the
exhibition opening ceremony for a presentation called “Father’s Influence on my Life.”
Unseen Portrait: The Art of Tom Hom
May 20-August 20 2017
In 2017, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum held an exhibition of illustrations by San Diego’s own Tom Hom, under the title, Unseen Portrait: The Art of Tom Hom. Many in San Diego have heard of longtime Chinese American leader and political legend, Tom E. Hom, but only his family and close friends are aware of his artistic talents. This exhibition highlighted Hom’s dedication to documenting the Chinese American experience in artistic form. Fifty works on display captured over seventy years of artistic creation, including sketches, cartoons, watercolors, and oil paintings.
At the exhibition opening, Tom Hom discussed with the public his upbringing in San Diego’s Chinatown. The SDCHM was very proud to have the chance to celebrate the achievements of this inspirational community figure in the year of his 90th birthday.
Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age
January 21-April 16 2017
The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum launched the international debut of Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age, which explored the seemingly impossible, yet technologically crucial Chinese typewriter – a machine that inputs a language with no alphabet, yet has more than 70,000 characters. The exhibition, curated by award-winning Stanford historian Dr. Tom Mullaney, was installed in the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Extension building from January 21 – April 16, 2017.
The exhibit was composed of Dr. Mullaney’s personal collection, which is the largest Chinese and Pan-Asian typewriter and I.T. collection in the world and highlighted artifacts and materials from the fields of printing, telegraphy, typewriting and computing in China, Japan and Korea, the first of its kind.
Salute to WWII Flying Tigers in China
October 1-November 12 2016
The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum presented highlights from the photo exhibition, “Salute to WWII Flying Tigers in China,” curated by Pedro Chan 陳燦培, Director of the American Flying Tigers Institute. Included in this special exhibition were select Flying Tigers articles and artifacts from SDCHM’s permanent collection.
Elephant and the Indians
June 25-July 13 2016
Chinese men and women crossed the Pacific Ocean to find wealth and prosperity in “Gold Mountain” in order to escape the widespread poverty of their homeland. Lee Yik-Gim, a Chinese man who worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1880s, had an extraordinary experience of his own. Native Americans captured him and he lived with them for two years before arriving in Baltimore. This fantastic story is one of the many scenarios of what could have happened during this unique encounter of a Chinese immigrant and Native American tribe.
Embracing a Noble Tradition
Embracing a Noble Tradition is a collection of artwork of students and teachers from the Chinese Brush Painting Society of San Diego. All of these students and teachers come from various ethnic backgrounds, but come together for a collective purpose: to capture the spirit and aesthetics of the Chinese painting tradition.The Society currently has over 30 active members, including accomplished artists, who meet to share ideas on all aspects of Chinese brush painting and host workshops on different styles of traditional and contemporary Chinese brush painting and calligraphy.
The Great Ming Unearthed
February 6 – April 30 2016
In this exhibit, visitors are able to explore the representations of daily life and spiritual beliefs from one of the glorious ages of Chinese civilization. To coincide with the exhibition, Professor Sarah Schneewind of the UCSD History Department, and author of A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China, will give a special presentation on the afterlife beliefs of the Ming.
The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental
The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental exhibit is on display at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum through the end of March. The exhibit gave a historical overview of the Chinese railroad laborers who were instrumental in building the United States’ first transcontinental railroad. This traveling exhibit was on loan from the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) Museum. It was also the first time SDCHM and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum collaborated on for an exhibit. SDCHM and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum offered reciprocal membership for the entire month of March.
The exhibit features historical and contemporary photos, illustrations, and personal stories from descendants with bilingual Chinese/English text written by the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University. In order to bring the exhibition to life, SDCHM displays period artifacts and train memorabilia from the Museum’s own collection. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum also loaned spikes and a lantern used during the transcontinental railroad period.
Crescent Moon over the Celestial Empire
A unique fusion of Chinese culture and Islamic traditions with Hui-style Arabic calligraphy, traditional garments, and various religious articles from northwest China. About ten million Hui live scattered across China, and they do not have a language or physical characteristics distinct from the Han majority. Their ethnic identity is mostly based on their descent from foreign Muslims who settled in China as early as the Tang Dynasty and various practices associated with Islam. While Dr. Alex Stewart was conducting research in Xining, Qinghai Province, numerous Hui donated artifacts for use in this exhibit in hopes that Americans will learn that Muslims can peacefully integrate with a secular culture.
Art Without Borders
Experience the finest contemporary Chinese art with Art Without Borders: The Da Dun Fine Arts Exhibition of Taichung City. For this exhibit, jurors have selected the finest examples of modern and traditional arts like painting, seal carving, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, and photography from among 1,347 entries from 27 different countries. Taichung City has held this exhibition each year since 1996, and it has been a major, international contest since 1999. This is the first year the exhibit has traveled to the United States, and Taichung has selected the Chinese Historical Museum in its sister city of San Diego to host the exhibition and celebrate our international friendship through the universal language of the arts.
The Lyrics of Light & Color by Dr. Polly Liew
Feast your eyes on the graceful strokes and charming colors of Dr. Polly Liew’s watercolor paintings. Dr. Liew debuted 29 of her paintings of flowers, landscapes, and other subjects at the Chuang Archive and Learning Center. Polly’s work incorporates bnoth Chinese brush painting techniques and Western watercolor principles.
Jack Liang’s Spirit of the Celestial Horse
More than 30 of Jack Liang’s recent works will be displayed at the Chuang Archive and Learning Center to show a pioneering spirit in Asian art, while maintaining an illustrious style in traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy.
Born in Shanghai in 1947, Jack was raised into a family of professional artists. From an early age he immersed himself in the study of calligraphy and watercolor, as well as western drawing. Trained in the Literati School of Chinese Painting, Jack learned to see painting as an extension of humanity, much like philosophy and poetry. He uses his training in Western painting theories to reexamine traditional Chinese techniques that emphasizes the subjective expressions of natural forms through the unique qualities of brush and ink. His contemporary outlook and traditional style create a fine balance between inner self and outer objects as he forges ahead into a new frontier.
Photographs of the Great Wall
Chen Changfen began photographing the Great Wall in 1965 while working for the Chinese Civil Aviation Company. Through the tumultuous years that followed, this project became a labor of love rather than a mere occupation. Chen has traveled rugged mountain trails and braved inclement to capture the wall in all its manifestations, returning to some sections more than one hundred times. Chen prints some photographs on rice paper to capture traditional Chinese aesthetics, conveying the perseverance of Chinese civilization and the enigmatic philosophy of Taoism. It is easy to see why Time Magazine named him as one of the ten preeminent photographers in the 150 years since the invention of the camera.
Ah Quin-Life, Leadership, and Legacy
Experience a rags to riches tale like no other in this exhibit that follows Ah Quin from a missionary school in Guangzhou; through menial servitude in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and a coal mining camp in Alaska; to the red light district of San Diego where he ascended to the role of Chinatown’s honorary mayor and left an indelible impact on the fledgling city. Presented exactly 100 years after his untimely death, this collection of never-before-seen artifacts generously donated by Jeanie Ming and other Ah Quin descendants captures the indomitable spirit of early Chinese Americans whose struggle for economic survival produced a unique transnational culture. Join the museum in celebrating one of San Diego’s lesser-known founding fathers on the very block where he raised his twelve children in the heart of the Chinatown he helped create. The exhibit will open with an informative lecture by Curator of Chinese American History Murray Lee followed by a reception with refreshments in the museum garden.