The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has one of the West’s largest collection of Asian art boasting over 18,000 objects, 2,500 of which are on display. The collection spans 6000 years of Asian culture and covers Persia, India, China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. The museum has a wonderful floor plan. It is easy to navigate and laid out in a way that will not allow you to inadvertently miss a room (or wing). It is clean and quiet, simple and elegant.
The recommended route through the museum starts on the third floor with South Asia. Here you find a collection of Buddha sculptures, statues of Hindu deities and tapestries. From here, move through Persia and Southeast Asia to see their take on the Buddha. Tibet is given its own room where there are some truly terrifying statues. They are meant to ward off evil, but I don’t think I would keep one in my bedroom. The largest section of the museum is given to China and there is an impressive jade and pottery collection, as well as this rhinoceros-shaped “ritual vessel.” Head down the stairs for the rest of China and then Korea where a display of vases made of soap will deceive you. The last part is dedicated to Japan where water-color paintings, Samurai armor and a recreated tea room are on display.
Overall, this is a great way to experience Asian culture and learn some history. The museum staff are friendly and the facility is wonderful. Oh, and the collection of works hailing from our largest continent isn’t bad, either.
Allow at least two hours for this museum, if not more. The layout of the exhibitions allows for an unhurried pace through. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10-5, and is open until 9pm on Thursdays from January through October. The cost of admission is $12 for adults, $7 for teens and free for kids.
The museum is educational and interesting, and is a must-do in San Francisco.