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Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Tues through Sun   10AM—5PM
Monday                   Closed

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Exhibition Schedule

Press Release

Picturing Sound, Creating Mood
March 23–Nov. 22, 2015

Indian paintings are invitations to enter a multisensory world filled with sounds, smells, tastes and other perceptions evoking mood and stirring emotion. They intend to prompt the sensitive viewer (rasika) to be drawn into the artwork emotionally and feel its essence (rasa). Sound creates mood, and elements of sound—through hand gestures, jewelry, water pipes, birds and fountains—are present in Indian paintings. Picturing Sound, Creating Mood presents 12 paintings from north and central India from the 18th and 19th centuries, inviting visitors to listen to the paintings, enter their worlds, and embark on a journey. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Yoong Bae: Continuity and Pursuit
April 14–Dec. 13, 2015

Twenty years ago the Asian Art Museum presented 21 muted and meditative artworks by Korean American artist Yoong Bae (1928–1992). These pieces were then donated to the museum’s collection, representing some of the first truly modernist works acquired by the museum. Bae was known for blending Korean artistic traditions with modern Western art while reflecting the calmness and harmony of someone at peace in this space in between.
Now, for the first time in two decades, a focused selection of Bae’s paintings is on display in the Asian Art Museum’s Korean art galleries in Yoong Bae: Continuity and Pursuit. These eight representative pieces introduce the late artist’s hybridized approach to a new generation of visitors. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Looking East: How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and Other Western Artists
Oct. 30, 2015–Feb. 7, 2016

Japan’s opening to international trade in the 1850s after centuries of self-imposed isolation set off a craze for all things Japanese among European and North American collectors, artists and designers. The phenomenon, dubbed japonisme by French writers, radically altered the course of Western art in the modern era. The Asian Art Museum delves into this sweeping development in the traveling exhibition Looking East: How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and Other Western Artists. The exhibition features more than 170 works of paintings, prints, furniture and decorative arts drawn from the acclaimed collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It traces the West’s growing interest in Japan, the collecting of Japanese objects, and the exploration of Japanese subject matter and styles. The works shown represent most of the major artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with masterpieces by the great impressionist and post-impressionist painters Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin and Claude Monet, among others. Western paintings, prints and other objects are juxtaposed throughout the exhibition with artworks by celebrated Japanese masters including Kitagawa Utamaro, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Katsushika Hokusai. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Accompanied by a catalogue.

Nov. 6, 2015–Aug. 14, 2016

Where is the line between history and mythology? In Extracted, artist Ranu Mukherjee eclipses the boundaries between the two, placing them in the same universe through colorful, collage-like video, textiles and works on paper. Drawing inspiration from California’s Gold Rush, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the museum’s expansive collection, Mukherjee invites you into otherworldly landscapes inhabited by miners, a Chinese goddess with a leopard tail and tiger teeth, and other fantastical beings. Through its countless layers—image over image, fact mingled with fiction—Extracted creates tension between history and myth. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts
Feb. 26–May 8, 2016
An international loan exhibition of Islamic art organized in collaboration with the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts emphasizes the role of human relationships in inspiring and sustaining artistic creativity at imperial courts. The exhibition spans a geographic range from the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean Sea and dates from the 16th to the 18th century—a period marked by the global movement of ideas and technologies and increased interaction among various cultural and religious communities. Pearls on a String is organized into three vignettes, each pivoting around a main protagonist in three different centuries and in three empires of the Islamic world. Through 74 exquisite artworks, Pearls on String tells the stories of a writer in 16th-century Mughal India, a painter in 17th-century Safavid Iran, and a patron in 18th-century Ottoman Turkey. Organized by the Walters Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. Accompanied by a catalogue.

China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps
March 4–May 8, 2016

China at the Center showcases two rare 17th-century maps, including A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World, created by Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci and his Chinese colleagues at the Ming court in 1602. Monumental in size (roughly 5 feet by 12 feet), and called the “impossible black tulip” because of its rarity, the map will be presented in China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. On loan from the James Ford Bell Trust, the Ricci map is one of six complete copies in the world today and the oldest known Chinese map to depict the Americas. Ferdinand Verbiest, another Jesuit, made his 1674 A Complete Map of the World for the Chinese court. On loan from the Library of Congress, this copy of the Verbiest map has never been exhibited. These two maps are among the earliest, rarest and largest woodblock-printed maps to survive from the period. Both maps tell captivating stories about the world of the 17th century and illustrate how Europe and Asia exchanged new ideas about geography, astronomy and the natural sciences. Organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the University of San Francisco. Accompanied by a catalogue.

Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art 
March 4–May 8, 2016

In 2016 the Asian Art Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary, a “golden” milestone. Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art is an exhibition of 50 artworks that together reveal the unique physical and symbolic aspects of gold—qualities that make this precious metal so important in the history of both Asian art and California. Ranging from a Qur’an manuscript to a Daoist ceremonial robe to a Mongolian Buddha bronze sculpture, the artworks reveal specific aspects of gold production and usage across Asia. In addition, an innovative installation including both California gold nuggets and Asian coinage explores how gold is extracted and transformed into money. San Francisco’s position on the world stage—as well as the prominence of Asia and Asian culture in California—stems from the area’s Gold Rush legacy. It’s a history that continues to inform today’s culture in the Golden State. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea
April 29–Oct. 23, 2016

Featuring nearly 20 objects, most from the museum’s collection, Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea showcases the significance of Korean mother-of-pearl lacquer wares, highlighting aspects of their aesthetics, creation, use and conservation. It will be the first in-depth exhibition in the United States to explore this remarkable subject matter. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Liu Jianhua
Spring 2016

As a 50th anniversary gift to the museum, the Society for Asian Art has commissioned a major work by Liu Jianhua, one of China’s best-known contemporary ceramic sculpture artists. The work comprises approximately 2,500 pieces of white porcelain formed into letters of the English alphabet and components of Chinese characters, suspended from the ceiling of the second-floor Loggia. The artist provides only the building blocks of words, leaving it to viewers to create meaning. The artwork’s location is especially apropos: the space offers an opportunity for dialogue with the original engraved literary quotations on the Loggia’s walls, dating to the building’s previous incarnation as San Francisco’s Main Library. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.

Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei
June 17–Sept. 18, 2016

The centerpiece exhibition of the museum’s 50th anniversary, Emperors’ Treasures features more than 150 artworks from the renowned Taipei museum and includes paintings, calligraphy, bronze vessels, ceramics, lacquer ware, jades, textiles and documents. More than 100 pieces will make their debut in this country, 30 of which are extremely rare masterpieces. Highlighting artworks that span from the Song to the Qing dynasties, the exhibition will explore the identities of nine rulers who reigned from the early 12th through the early 20th centuries. By examining each ruler’s contribution to the arts and exploring the eras’ differing styles, subjects and craftsmanship, Emperors’ Treasures will outline how Chinese art came to develop and flourish under Han Chinese, Mongol and Manchu rulers. Organized by the Asian Art Museum. Accompanied by a catalogue.

The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe
Oct. 21, 2016–Jan. 15, 2017

The Rama Epic—recounting the struggle of Prince Rama to defeat a powerful demonic king, rescue his abducted wife and reestablish virtuous order in the world—has been a prime subject for visual and performing arts, literature and religious thought in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia for many centuries. A huge number of artworks of all kinds relating to the Rama legends have been made over the course of 1,500 years in a dozen countries. The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe illustrates some of the most important episodes involving the four primary characters: the hero, Rama; the heroine, Rama’s wife Sita; the ally, Rama’s faithful monkey lieutenant Hanuman; and the foe, the ten-headed demon king Ravana. The exhibition tells the story in a new light using more than 130 artworks, ranging from paintings to puppets to decorative arts to contemporary works to ephemera, inviting visitors to find echoes of their own experiences in the stories of each character. Organized by the Asian Art Museum. Accompanied by a catalogue.

Asian Art Museum Collection Galleries

More than 2,500 extraordinary works from the museum’s renowned collection are displayed in the second- and third- floor galleries. Together these works constitute a comprehensive introduction to the major cultures of Asia. Immense Indian stone sculptures, intricately carved Chinese jades, vibrant Korean paintings, mystical Tibetan thangkas (ritual paintings on cloth), serene Cambodian Buddhas, richly decorated Islamic manuscripts, and colorful Japanese kimonos are just a few of the treasures on view. Every six months, the museum refreshes dozens of artworks from each geographic region with new selections from storage, providing visitors a unique perspective on each visit. These items are indicated with “Newly on View” tags on the labels.

Dates and exhibitions are subject to change. Please visit to confirm information.

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: 415.581.3500 or

Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Hours: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours during spring and summer until 9 PM. Closed Mondays, as well as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

General Admission: FREE for museum members, $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), college students with ID, and youths (13–17). FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. General admission on Thursdays after 5 PM is $5 for all visitors (except those under 12, SFUSD students, and museum members, who are always admitted FREE). General admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). A surcharge may apply for admission to special exhibitions.

Access: The Asian Art Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information regarding access: 415.581.3598; TDD: 415.861.2035.