Lost at Sea: Art Recovered from Shipwrecks
Nov. 26, 2019–Aug. 3, 2020
A fierce three-headed serpent and a mysterious female deity were among the nearly two dozen 12th-century stone reliefs from Central Vietnam that lay unseen at the bottom of the Arabian Sea for nearly 120 years. Almost 5,000 miles away in the South China Sea, blue-and-white ceramic bowls, plates and jars rested in the hold of a sunken ship off the coast of Vietnam for more than five centuries. Preserved like time capsules under the seas, these shipwrecks contained artworks that were excavated in the 1990s by marine archaeologists, sold at auction, purchased by individual collectors and then donated to the museum.
Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhism Journey Toward Enlightenment
January 17, 2020–Aug. 3, 2020
Wake up! Open your eyes, clear your head and leave this fractured world behind. Embark on a transformational journey, guided by dozens of inspirational Himalayan Buddhist artworks. Prayer wheels and ritual weapons accompany you as you encounter fierce guardians, the god of death, and wrathful deities on your path to enlightenment.
Along the Silk and Spice Routes
For more than 2,000 years, a network of overland and maritime trade routes connected East and West, linking the powerful and culturally diverse regions of China, India, Persia, Egypt and Rome. Delve into the artistic legacy of the silk and spice routes discovering how trade, travel and cultural exchange transformed and remade the ancient world.
In this tour, explore diverse works from the museum’s comprehensive ceramics collection. Learn about the evolution of technologies and decorative motifs from Neolithic times to the present and discover exquisite wares that are prized throughout the world for their beauty.
Goddesses: Images of Power
Depictions of the feminine divine encompass a wealth of art from fertility goddesses to Earth Mother to wrathful figures that help devotees achieve nirvana. Take a fascinating look at worship in Asia from a “different point of view” and learn engrossing ancient stories of devotion, lust, compassion, wisdom and power.
Great Works: A New Look
Take a trip through the newly reopened third-floor galleries to discover the Asian’s rich collection in a new display. The Asian’s collection showcases diverse and intriguing cultures as well as sacred and secular art. This is both the perfect introduction to the Asian Art Museum’s collection for the first-time visitor and a superb way to experience the collection over and over again.
India’s Spiritual Legacy
Home to many religious traditions which spread to other parts of Asia, art from India and South Asia is a visual feast. The Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions all originated here, and for many centuries South Asia was also the seat of several powerful Islamic dynasties. Discover images and artifacts related to these religions and traditions.
Jade, Stone of Heaven
Over time, jade has come to be associated in popular belief with everything that is powerful, beautiful and precious. Learn about the dedication, patience and years of training jade craftsmen harnessed to produce objects of such beauty, as well as the fascination that jade held for the powerful Chinese and Mughal aristocracies. With more than 1,200 jade pieces covering a span of 5,000 years, the Asian Art Museum’s collection ranks among the finest ever assembled under one roof.
Snakes — Sinister or Sacred?
Long before the advent of the primary religions of India, the worship of animal deities was widespread. Snakes, associated with power, life-giving water and reincarnation, were an integral part of the belief system. Snakes — Sinister or Sacred? takes you on a journey through the museum’s South and Southeast Asian galleries, where you will learn how artists blended this ancient practice of animal worship with both Hindu and Buddhist artistic traditions.
The Asian Art Museum opened in its Civic Center location in March 2003, in San Francisco’s former Main Library building. The original building was designed by George Kelham in the Beaux-Arts style and opened as the library in 1917. Explore the preserved architectural features of the original building and learn how Italian architect Gae Aulenti applied adaptive reuse techniques to transform it into a museum.
Discover how the museum is looking to the future as we transform the museum with a new exhibition pavilion and rooftop art terrace designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY.
Planning a trip to Asia soon? Learn more about your destination before getting on the plane! Let us know your itinerary and one of our expert docents will create a customized tour through our collection galleries that focuses on the regions you will be visiting. You’ll gain insight based on the artwork we have on view as well as your docent’s own personal experiences.
For more information on this one-of-a-kind tour, please contact group visits at 415.581.3620 or email@example.com.
Want the museum all to yourself? Book a private tour when the museum is normally closed to the public! Choose from any of the special exhibition or collection tour options above. Tours are one to one-and-a-half hours in length, and you have the option to enhance your visit with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres arranged through our rentals department (additional fees apply). This experience is perfect for a get-together with friends or a company retreat!
Package price for up to 10 people: $450
Package price for up to 20 people: $650
Can’t make it to the museum? Let us bring the museum to you! A docent from the Asian Art Museum’s Community Speakers Program can deliver an educational and entertaining multimedia talk at your location. Visit the Community Speakers Program page for more information or to request a talk.