From Tibetan Buddhist sculptures to intricate Persian manuscripts, Korean stoneware to Chinese calligraphy, the Asian Art Museum is a national treasure of Asian culture. The museum has hosted important temporary events as well, including an exhibition on wisdom and compassion by the Dalai Lama, and is home to several unique features like the authentic Japanese Tea Room, which offers ceremonies and tastings to visitors. Housed in the historic former main library building, the museum is also an important SF architectural landmark.
Visiting the Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum is located in the Civic Center
, just across the plaza from San Francisco's City Hall and next to the Main Library.
It is with walking distance from Union Square and is easily accessible by public transportation, including the historic streetcar which runs up and down Market Street and to Fisherman's Wharf.
- Address: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco CA
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 5pm, Thursdays till 9pm.
- Admission: Adults $12, Seniors $8, Youth and College Students $7, Children under 12 and members of the armed forces free. Thursday nights after 5pm is only $5 and the first Sunday of every month in entirely free of charge.
- Tours: Free guided and self-guided multi-media tours are available at the information desk.
- Contact: (415)581-3500 www.asianart.org
The Asian Art Museum Collection
The Asian Art Museum's permanent collection includes over 18,000 objects and spans over 6,000 years of Asian history. Exibits are organized by country or region, and include the following:
- China: Art and craft from the neolithic period through modern times are housed here, including stunning works of jade and the oldest known dated Chinese Buddha figure in the world.
- Japan: Woodblock prints, painted scrolls and screens, the largest collection of bamboo baskets outside of Japan and tons more Buddhist art.
- Southeast Asia: Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos are all represented in this area. Look for the bronze and stone relics from Angkor Wat.
- The Himalayas: Masterworks of Tibetan Buddhist paintings and sculptures are the treasures of this collection but the colorful textiles from Bhutan are fascinating as well.
- South Asia: Temple sculptures from India and Pakistan display the remarkable craftsmanship of Hindu, Moslem and Buddhist artisans.
- Contemporary Art: A steadily growing body of modern art from Asia is another attraction of the museum. Scuplture, painting, paper and media installations are all represented.
Special Programs at the Asian Art Museum
- The Japanese Tea Room: A full size traditional Japanese tearoom is located near the Japanese galleries on the 2nd floor. Several different tea ceremonies are performed here throughout the year, each by a tea master, and visitors may join in and participate. Check the online schedule for upcoming tea room events.
- The Asia Alive Program:
This series of artist demonstrations and workshops is extremely popular with the local community but is open to all visitors. Most events are completely free of charge with museum admission and focus on traditional Asian arts and crafts, from sand mandalas to paper-making. Check the online schedule for upcoming workshops and demonstrations.
- The MATCHA Program: About once a month, the Asian Art Museum throw a special party at the museum, which usually centers on a particular theme or exhibit and features live or DJ music and a cocktail bar. Check for upcoming MATCHA event on the current calendar.
- Family Programs: From art activity workshops to storytelling session, the Asian Art Museum offers a surprising wide range of programs for families with children. Check the online schedule for current offerings.
Cafe Asia at the Asian Art Museum
Sporting an outdoor terrace over the street, Cafe Asia offers visitors a wide range of culinary options that have roots spanning the Asian continent.
You do not have to pay admission to the museum to visit the cafe, just ask for a cafe pass from the entrance desk.