Year of the Tiger: Chinese Traditions in Sonoma County 1890-2022

February 5, 2022 - Ongoing

While Chinese residents already lived in Santa Rosa by 1890, the year is a good starting point for the establishment of Santa Rosa’s historic Chinatown as a defined neighborhood. Consisting of wood sidewalks and modest buildings along Second Street, it was occupied by a community of mostly men, and an occasional family, isolated to that part of the city as racism and anti-Chinese rhetoric reached a peak in the 1880s.
As 1890 was the Year of the Tiger in Chinese astrology, 2022 marks the return of the Year of the Tiger and a time to look back at the continuing presence of Chinese traditions in Sonoma County. The exhibition focuses on the Chinese temple which sat at the heart of Santa Rosa’s Chinatown and was the centerpiece of many of the cultural traditions observed by the Chinese immigrants and Chinese American residents. Featuring historic objects from the Museum’s Song Wong Bourbeau collection, as well as contemporary items generously provided from the Redwood Empire Chinese Association (RECA), the exhibition explores and recognizes the long history and continuity of Chinese traditions. The Chinese temple provided a sense of collective unity for Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans; a place for individual worship and reflection and played a vital role in maintaining a connection with their cultural home. Year of the Tiger shows that while the Chinese American community is more equally integrated into the North Bay, the important threads of community, culture, language, tradition, ritual, and history remain tightly woven into the fabric of Sonoma County.

This exhibition was done in partnership with the Redwood Empire Chinese Association, founded in 1988 with a focus on sharing Chinese culture.


Pictured (left to right):  Song Wong Bourbeau, date unknown; Sculpture, Date unknown; Tom Wong Family, c. 1917

Museum of Sonoma County
425 Seventh Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 579-1500

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The mission of the Museum of Sonoma County is to engage and inspire our diverse community with art and history exhibitions, collections, and public programs that are inclusive, educational, and relevant.