Chinese Garden News - New Year Brings Major New Funding for Chinese Garden

January 20, 2017

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Artist's rendering of the Star Gazing Pavilion


Ushering in the Year of the Rooster, a group of major gifts to The Huntington’s Chinese Garden bring it closer to full funding for the second and final phase of construction. New gifts totaling $8.5 million come from June and Simon Li, Joy and Matthew Lin, and Judy Yin Shih and Joel Axelrod. Another gift to finalize the funding of the second phase is expected in early 2017, after which construction will get under way with an eye toward completion by fall 2018. These gifts bring the total amount raised for the second phase to $24 million, which includes features completed in 2014.


“We are overwhelmed and delighted by the generosity of these donors, who came forward with a deep commitment to finishing what has become over the years one of the world’s most beloved Chinese gardens in progress,” said Laura Skandera Trombley, Huntington President. The additional components include, among others, a new gallery to display Chinese art, a penjing court, and a hilltop pavilion.


June and Simon Li. Photo by Jamie Pham.June and Simon Li

A $2 million gift from June and Simon Li of Pasadena will make possible the Star Gazing Tower, a new pavilion perched atop a ridge along the southwest side of the garden, looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains. June was the founding curator of the garden and is co-curator of the major exhibition “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints,” on view in the Boone Gallery through Jan. 9. Simon serves as a member of The Huntington’s Board of Overseers. The couple provided $3 million in 2014 to endow the East Asian Garden Studies Center and the Chinese Garden curator position.


Joy and Matthew Lin. Photo by Jamie Pham.Joy and Matthew Lin

Joy and Matthew Lin, longtime residents of San Marino, provided a gift of $3 million for the Flowery Brush Studio, a complex of two buildings for the display of Chinese art. The Studio, to be built along the north flank of the garden, will feature a permanent collection of scholar’s rocks, calligraphy, and furniture; an adjacent building will allow The Huntington to display special exhibitions of contemporary works. Matthew Lin was the first Chinese American mayor of San Marino, serving as mayor and a member of the City Council from 2001-09.


Judy Shih and Joel AxelrodJudy Shih and Joel Axelrod

A $2.5 million gift from Judy Shih and Joel Axelrod, formerly of San Marino and now residents of Ashland, Ore., will help fund general construction of Phase II. Judy, a member of The Huntington’s Board of Overseers, was a Chinese Garden docent just after the garden opened in 2008, and it was that involvement that led to her and her husband’s first major gift to The Huntington: $2 million to name the Clear and Transcendent pavilion. That gift was soon followed by $1 million for the Court of Assembled Worthies, a large courtyard that will anchor the pavilions on the garden’s northern side. This latest gift, they have said, is to help finish the garden “as well as to inspire other individuals in the community to give.”


About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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