Civic San Diego is expected to approve the installation of two guardian lion statues at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum downtown. The statues, about ten feet tall including pedestals, will stand on the sidewalks at the northwest and northeast corners of Third Avenue and J Street.
404 Third Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Since the statues will be on a public right-of-way, the museum had to apply for a Neighborhood Development Permit from CivicSD, which handles such matters for the city. CivicSD issued a notice of application, which indicated a final decision will be made on January 28. These decisions are often routine unless there is neighborhood opposition, but that's probably not likely in this case.
While photos of the large statues were not yet available, the stone lions will be similar to the small guardian lions outside the back door of the museum. Bringing the large lion statues to the museum has taken years to accomplish, a museum staffer told the Reader last week. Costs and an installation date have not yet been announced.
Alex Chaung, executive director, said the long delay was caused largely by the changeover from CCDC (Centre City Development Corporation) to CivicSD. “We basically had to start the process over again,” Chaung said. The granite statues were purchased in China some time ago and are ready to be placed.
According to Wikipedia, statues of guardian lions have been around since the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) "and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits." They are traditionally displayed as a pair of male and female lions. The male leans his paw on an embroidered ball that represents the world.
The Chinese Historical Museum opened in 1996. It's located in the former Chinese Mission building, moved years ago from First Avenue to the current location at 328 J Street. Their newer space, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension, is across the street on the ground floor of the Pacific Terrace condominium building.
The museum has presented more than 47 exhibits spotlighting the traditions of Chinese culture and history in San Diego and throughout the world. There's also a library of books on Chinese culture, and a garden with koi pond. Financial support for the Chinese Historical Museum is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.