Even if you are not a connoisseur of the Asian culture and just want to enrich your knowledge in the sphere of Asian art, you are sure to enjoy the visit to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, which houses one the most comprehensive and splendid exhibitions in the world. In particular, the whole collection covers more than 6,000 years of Asian history and presents about 18,000 art objects on display, from more than 40 Asian countries. The artifacts come from a whole range of countries, including China, Japan, India, Thailand, Turkey, etc. (Tingley 2).
Before planning your tour to the museum, it would be highly advisable to visit the official website of the museum to refresh the information about the continent’s geography and history, as well as the museum’s most valuable pieces (Karp 1).
Having entered the building, I noticed that there is a great variety of options to attract visitors on the first floor. There is an Asian café, a souvenir shop, and special temporary art collections.
However, I would advise everyone who comes to the museum for the first time to start the exploration with the third floor. The collections presented there to reflect the major themes of Buddhism and include exquisite puppets and Buddha statuettes. All of them are incrusted with jewelry (Tuholski 3). Descending to the second floor, you can find Chinese, Korean, and Japanese works of the later period. In order to enjoy this part of the exhibition to the uttermost, you have to be attentive to the tiniest details, which are really worth scrutinizing. As far as I am concerned, I was mostly impressed by the refinery of the tea implements.
As has already been mentioned above, the ground floor does not house any permanent collections. It is designed to combine various traveling sets of artworks devoted to different topics, such as Balinese art, or yoga practices (Lee 2).
If I had to single out the factors that turned out to be the most fascinating for me, I would mention the meticulous representation of religious artifacts. They are sorted out according to their period, date, school, and meaning. Besides, the material, the technique, and even the implication of the authors are specified (Stucky 41).
For visitors who are interested in the history of a particular Asian country, it is rather easy to find rooms showing screens and scrolls from Korea, China, Japan, etc., which depict famous historical battle scenes. And for those who want to compare antiquities with modern art, the museum continuously expands its collection of contemporary works (Lee 3).
Despite the fact that the museum presents a spectacular collection, its audience is gradually aging. That is why they constantly struggle to stay relevant in order to meet the expectations of their audience. When you visit the museum, you see that lots of different strategies (including workshops and various kinds of short-term, goal-oriented excursions) are applied for attracting the millenials. I also learned that they organize several dance parties every year that include DJs, food, and drinks. By doing so, they want to make teenagers understand that art does not have to be boring.
In conclusion, I want to say that it was a really memorable experience for me. It is a rare case when a classical museum manages to combine history and modernity, thereby touching the feeling of everyone, young and old.
Karp, Ivan. Exhibiting cultures: The poetics and politics of museum display. Smithsonian Institution, 2012. Print.
Lee, Anthony W. Picturing Chinatown: Art and Orientalism in San Francisco. University of California Press, 2001. Print.
Stucky, John. “Chinese Collections at the C. Laan Chun Library, Asian Art Museum”. Art library journal 39.02 (2014): 39-42. Web.
Tingley, Nancy. “Doris Duke. The Southeast Asian Art Collection.” Oceanic Linguistics 55.1 (2016). Web.
Tuholski, Stan J., and Paul E. Rodler. “San Francisco’s new Asian Art Museum.” 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering. 2004. Web.