Exploring the Rich Culture at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

Welcome to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, where you can explore the rich and diverse culture of Asia. Located in the heart of San Francisco, this museum houses one of the most extensive collections of Asian art outside of Asia. With over 18,000 objects spanning more than 6,000 years of history, the Asian Art Museum is an essential destination for anyone interested in the arts and cultures of Asia. From stunning sculptures to intricate textiles, and from classic calligraphy to contemporary installations, this museum has it all. Join us on a journey as we delve into the fascinating world of Asian art and culture.

The History of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

Origins of the Museum

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum opened its doors to the public in 1966. Its original location was the former San Francisco city library building, which was a Beaux-Arts building built in 1917. The museum started with a small collection of Chinese art, which was acquired by Avery Brundage, who was a businessman and an avid collector of Asian art.

Brundage had spent many years in Asia, which was where he had acquired his love for Asian art. He had been the president of the International Olympic Committee during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he had become friends with Japanese athletes. His friendship with the Japanese athletes had led to his deep appreciation of Japanese art.

Brundage had donated his collection of Asian art to the city of San Francisco, but the city had no place to store or display it. He then went on to fund the construction of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

Museum Expansion

In 2003, the museum underwent a major expansion that added a new wing to the existing building. The new wing provided an additional 77,000 square feet of exhibit space, which allowed the museum to display many more pieces of art. The new wing also housed a new education center, a sculpture garden, and a cafe.

The expansion was designed by renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti, who was also the designer of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The new wing was designed to complement the existing building while also standing out on its own. The new wing was clad in a rust-colored Corten steel, which contrasted with the original building’s white marble facade.

Museum Collection

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum’s collection has grown significantly over the years. It now has over 18,000 pieces of art from all over Asia, including China, Japan, India, Korea, and more. The collection includes ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art.

One of the most unique pieces in the museum’s collection is a Japanese tea house called the “Sunkaraku Tea House”. The tea house was built in Kyoto, Japan in the late 1800s and was dismantled and reassembled at the museum in San Francisco. The tea house is used to host traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

The museum’s collection also includes pieces from the Gandhara region, which is situated in what is now present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gandhara art is a mixture of Indian and Hellenistic styles and is known for its intricately carved stone sculptures.

In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase different aspects of Asian art and culture. These exhibitions have covered a wide range of topics, from the ancient Silk Road trading route to the work of contemporary Asian artists.

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a testament to the rich and diverse cultures of Asia. It is a place where visitors can learn about and experience the art and culture of Asia through its vast collection and exhibitions.

Discover the Spectacular Exhibits at San Francisco Asian Art Museum

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a world-renowned art museum located in the heart of the city. It showcases a remarkable collection of Asian art spanning over 6,000 years and encompassing over 18,000 pieces. The museum is known for its comprehensive collections of artworks from China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia.

Current Exhibits

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is home to an impressive permanent collection that is consistently augmented with a rotating selection of exhibits, as well as several special exhibits each year. Each exhibit is designed to highlight the exceptional artwork and tell a unique story. The museum curates exhibitions across several mediums, including sculpture, painting, photography, and textiles.

One of the best exhibitions to catch right now is ‘The Canon: A Collection of Books’ that features works of different materials, sizes, and structures from 10 countries across Asia. Asian art is an extraordinary resource that reflects not only cultural and social values but also contemporary practices and ideology. Through the exhibition, visitors can see rare pieces from the collection and delve into the stories they reveal to better understand the diverse history and culture of Asia.


The San Francisco Asian Art Museum offers an abundance of tours that cater to visitors of all ages and interests. With a guided tour, you can explore the richness of Asian art while having a knowledgeable expert take you through the museum and explain the nuances of each art piece.

Children and teenagers can participate in specialized tours designed to make learning about art engaging and fun. These tours can be both informative and interactive, featuring hands-on experiences and games.

For visitors who need language support, the museum offers free audio guides in six different languages, including English, Mandarin, Korean, Cantonese, Spanish, and Japanese.

Virtual Exhibits

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum has a remarkable online platform that hosts several virtual exhibits. With the click of a button, visitors can get an immersive digital experience of the museum’s collections comfortably from their homes. The virtual exhibits allow visitors to enjoy the beauty of Asian art while also discovering in-depth information about the pieces on display.

The virtual exhibits are an excellent resource for individuals who cannot make it to the museum in person, students, teachers, scholars, and anyone who has an interest in Asian art and culture. Some of the best virtual exhibits at the museum include the ‘Divine Bodies’ exhibit that explores sculptures of ancient Asia and ‘Weavers’ Stories’ exhibit that showcases textile artworks from all over Asia.


The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a wonderful destination for individuals who have an interest in discovering the beauty and cultural importance of Asian art. The exhibits are breathtaking, and the museum staff is knowledgeable and helpful. With a variety of tours, events, and virtual exhibits offered, the museum ensures that visitors of all ages and abilities are well taken care of while exploring the rich artistic traditions of Asia.

Events at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

Situated in the heart of the city, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a hub for everything related to Asian art and culture. The museum boasts a comprehensive collection of Asian art with over 18,000 pieces spanning over 6000 years of history. In addition to its collection, the museum is known for its variety of events and programs that it hosts throughout the year. Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the museum’s events have something to offer for everyone.

Museum Programs

The museum offers a diverse range of programs that are designed to educate and entertain visitors. These programs are aimed at creating an immersive experience by providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about Asian art and culture in a fun and interactive way. From lectures and workshops to performances and tours, there is always something new and exciting happening at the Museum.

One popular program at the museum is the “Art Speak” series, which features talks on different aspects of Asian art and culture. These talks are led by curators, artists, and scholars who bring their expertise to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the museum’s collection. The “Art Speak” series covers a wide range of topics, including calligraphy, ceramics, and even pop culture.

The museum also offers workshops, which are perfect for those who want to get hands-on experience with Asian art. These workshops are suitable for learners of all levels, from beginners to experienced artists. Some of the workshops that the museum offers are “Sumi-e Ink Painting” and “Woodblock Printing.”

Annual Events

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum knows how to celebrate and host some of the most vibrant annual events in the city. One such event is the Lunar New Year Celebration, which is held annually in February. The event features a variety of activities including dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, traditional lion dance, and even fortune telling. Visitors can indulge in the festive spirit by trying out delicious Asian cuisine from local vendors and vendors from across the state.

Another popular event at the museum is the Asian Art Museum’s Art Bash. This annual event is a fundraiser that features a unique blend of music, dance, food, and fashion. Visitors can enjoy performances by local musicians and dance companies while indulging in cuisine prepared by prominent chefs and restaurants. The event also features a silent auction, which gives visitors a chance to get their hands on unique items, including art, jewelry, and Asian decor.

Private Events

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum offers an unforgettable venue that can be tailored to your specific needs. The museum’s unique and elegant spaces provide an excellent backdrop for weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions. The event spaces are designed to be flexible and can be configured to accommodate small intimate gatherings or large-scale receptions.

The rental services of the museum include an in-house event team that works closely with the clients to ensure that your event is a success. The team takes care of everything, from catering to decor, and even provides access to the museum’s collection for unique photo opportunities.

In conclusion, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is an iconic destination that offers an inspiring and immersive experience. The museum’s wide range of programs and events provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn about Asian art and culture in a fun and interactive way. Whether you want to attend a lecture, try your hand at Sumi-e ink painting, or have a one-of-a-kind wedding, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum has something for everyone.

Visiting the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a must-visit destination for art lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike. The museum boasts one of the most comprehensive and diverse collections of Asian art in the world, with over 18,000 objects spanning 6,000 years of history. In this section, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know before visiting the museum.

Hours and Admission

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. The last admission entry is at 4:30 pm.

The admission fee for the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, students, and youths (ages 13-17), and free for children under 12 and museum members. However, the museum offers free admission on the first Sunday of each month and on select holidays throughout the year.

Directions and Parking

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is located in the Civic Center neighborhood, at 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102. The museum is easily accessible by public transportation, including Muni bus lines 5, 19, 47, and 49. The Civic Center/UN Plaza BART station is also just a few blocks away.

For those driving to the museum, there are several nearby parking options, including the Civic Center Plaza Garage, which is located across the street from the museum’s main entrance. Additionally, there are several other parking garages within walking distance of the museum.


The San Francisco Asian Art Museum offers several amenities to enhance visitors’ experiences. These include a gift shop, café, coat check, and free Wi-Fi.

The museum’s gift shop features a wide range of Asian art-inspired merchandise, including books, jewelry, home decor, and clothing. The café offers a selection of snacks, sandwiches, salads, and beverages, including beer and wine. It is the perfect place to take a break and recharge during your visit.

Visitors can also take advantage of the museum’s complimentary coat check, which is located near the main entrance. This service allows visitors to store their belongings, including coats, bags, and umbrellas, while exploring the galleries.

Finally, the museum offers complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the building. Visitors can access the internet and use their mobile devices to learn more about the art and artifacts on display.

In conclusion, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is an incredible destination that offers an opportunity to explore the rich history and culture of Asia. With its extensive collection, convenient location, and fantastic amenities, it is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to San Francisco. We hope this guide has provided you with all the information you need to plan your visit.

Supporting the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

As one of the largest museums in the Western world dedicated exclusively to Asian art and culture, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum plays an important role in promoting and celebrating the diversity of Asian cultures. The museum hosts a variety of exhibits, events, and programs throughout the year, but it relies on the support of its members, donors, and volunteers to continue its mission. Here are three ways you can help support the San Francisco Asian Art Museum:


Becoming a member of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a great way to show your support for the museum, while also gaining access to a variety of exclusive perks. There are several levels of membership available, ranging from $85 for an individual membership to $1,500 for a patron membership. All memberships come with unlimited free admission to the museum, as well as discounts on museum programs, events, and purchases at the museum store. Additionally, members receive invitations to exclusive members-only events, such as exhibition previews, curator-led tours, and receptions with artists and scholars. If you are a frequent visitor to the museum, becoming a member is a smart choice.


The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a non-profit organization, which means it relies on the generosity of its donors to fund its programs and initiatives. Every donation to the museum helps support exhibitions, educational programs, and research into Asian art and culture. Donors can choose to make a one-time gift, or become a sustaining member by making a recurring donation each month. Additionally, the museum offers a variety of donation levels, ranging from $25 to $25,000, so there is an option for every budget. Donations can be made online, by phone, or by mail, and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Your donation will help ensure that the San Francisco Asian Art Museum can continue to inspire and educate visitors for years to come.


If you are looking for a more hands-on way to support the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, consider becoming a volunteer. The museum’s volunteer program offers a variety of opportunities to get involved and make a difference. Volunteers can choose from a range of tasks, including assisting with events, giving tours, working in the museum store, and more. The museum welcomes volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, so whether you are a student, a retiree, or somewhere in between, there is a volunteer opportunity for you. Volunteering at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a great way to meet new people, gain new skills, and contribute to a worthy cause. To learn more about volunteering at the museum, visit their website or attend one of their volunteer information sessions.

Whether you choose to become a member, make a donation, or volunteer your time, supporting the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is a rewarding way to help preserve and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Asia. By supporting the museum, you are helping to ensure that future generations can continue to learn from and appreciate the beauty and diversity of Asian art and culture.

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