The rise of snuff taking, and the subsequent use and collecting of snuff bottles (biyanhu), was a phenomenon occurring at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. It is best understood within the broader social and historical cross-cultural perspective of the introduction of tobacco. This was a New World crop, brought into China, and to other parts of the globe, initially by European traders in the sixteenth century.
Curated by Clare Chu, who has been active in the field of Chinese snuff bottles for forty years as a curator of exhibitions, auction consultant, lecturer, and writer, this exhibition incorporates around 120 snuff bottles, including those from the SDCHM and SDSU CCC collections, in addition to bottles on loan from private collectors in San Diego. This exhibition aims to contextualize the bottles on display in relation to historical context, considering events relevant to the popularization of the substance, its use, and, then, the popularization of snuff-bottles-as-objects.
The exhibition opened on September 1, 2023 at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension. It will run through February 25, 2024.
History has always been a powerful reminder of our connection with others. Our permanent exhibition showcases a prominent timeline on a central wall to bridge our displayed items with their respective histories. One side of the wall depicts a timeline of Chinese history from the Shang to the Qing dynasty, while the other side depicts the Chinese American immigration story with a focus on the community in San Diego. The history of our organization is displayed on a segment at the end of the long wall, which honors the individuals who were key players in establishing the museum that we know today.
The permanent exhibition in our Mission building is story-based and presented in several sections. For example, we have a corner dedicated to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This area includes a herbal cabinet grinding tools, herb samples and other artifacts that you would find in a typical herb shop. Other sections include Religion and Philosophy, Chinese Folk Art, Chinese Laundries, and much more!
Images of the permanent exhibition are available @https://photos.app.goo.gl/WaX5k41ayHcEi4Z29
Docent Tour: Mission Refresh
Dr. Robert Stein (SDCHM Interim Director), Lily Tou Birmingham (SDCHM Interim Director), and Michael Yee (SDCHM Historian-Educator) provide an overview tour of the refreshed permanent exhibition in the Museum's Mission building. Videographer Alan Su recorded the images featured in this tour video. Elizabeth Hensley C. (SDCHM Programs Coordinator) produced this edit.