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Permanent Collection

Since the Museum's inception, the well-traveled and popular exhibit In Search of Gold Mountain, A Photographic History of the Chinese in San Diego, California has become a part of the permanent collection. This 16 paneled display documents the immigration of the Chinese to the San Diego area. This informative and educational display holds photographs, oral histories, articles, maps, and statistics organized under these separate thematic headings: Origins, Why They Came; Early immigrants, How they Came; Early Activities; Early Organizations and Social Activities; The Anti-Chinese Movement; Chinatown; and Recent Arrivals.

The Museum's collection also includes local archeological artifacts, excavated from Old Chinatown, many objects dating from the turn of the century. We have on display: ceramics, especially those used to store, cook and serve food, buttons imprinted with naval insignias, sea shells, ink bottles, bone toothbrushes, jade, children's toys, perfume bottles, and medicinal vials. These displays are supplemented by maps and photographs juxtaposing quotidian depictions of Old Chinatown with their corresponding current locations. These archeological digs are located within a one-block radius of the Museum. This display, along with the Ballast Point Fishing Camp display, on loan from the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation, help to establish the proliferation of a working-class Chinese Diaspora. These artifacts re-contextualize our understanding of San Diego's history and the role that Chinese immigrants play in shaping it.

Our archeological displays include a case devoted to the notorious Stingaree District. Liquor bottles, opium pipe shards, hand carved ivory dice, Chinese games pieces and Indian Head pennies are displayed along with an original Chinese lottery machine. A lottery punch, a set of typesetting letters, and a game card stamp are on display, along with a brief history of illegal lottery practices during the turn of the century, and its current inception as the California Keno.

Other historical artifacts include storybooks, language books, dictionaries, journals and pamphlets belonging to American diplomatic personnel residing in Peiping, China during the 1930s. An antique herbalist's medicine cabinet, dating from the early 1900's, stands about five feet tall and holds forty-eight drawers. Our collection also includes a plaque given by the Chinese Commercial Commission to the San Diego Chamber of Commerce in 1915.

The Museum's collection also includes art pieces, generously donated by the late former Ambassador Everett Drumright and Mrs. Florence Drumright consisting of 70 Chinese paintings and calligraphy, which among them 26 were done mostly by masters of the 1950s and '60s in Taiwan. Some of the masters included: Huang Chun-Pi (1898-1991), Chang Dai-Chien (1899-1983) Kao Young (1907-1982), Ma Shou-Hwa (1893-1977), Chen Tan-Chang (1919- ), Hsi De-Jin (1923-1981), Yeh Tsui-Pai (1910- ), Wu Chang-Shuo (1844-1927), and Ou Hao-Nien (1935- ). Calligraphy by Chiang Kai-Shek was also donated. The museum was privileged to receive two rare collaborations, one by Huang Chun-Pi and Chang Dai-Chien and the other done jointly by Chen Tan-Chang with Huang Chun-Pi and Chang Dai-Chien.


San Diego Chinese Historical Museum


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