ALERTDuring lobby construction, visitors should use the far right-hand doors to enter the museum and check in at the new information desk in Bowes South Court. Learn more.

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Tour Options

Special Exhibition Tours

Upcoming Special Exhibitions

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan
September 27 – December 8, 2019
Examine the friendship and artistic kinship of Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) and Saburo Hasegawa (1906–1957), both influential midcentury artists who lived and worked in both the United States and Japan, each deeply interested in traditional Japanese culture and modernist abstraction. This exhibition will address the connections — and creative frictions — that spark when the indigenous and the foreign, the traditional and the contemporary, and the personal and the universal are united in artistic form.

Collection Tours

For a full list of tours available please contact

Great Works: A New Look
Take a trip through the newly re-opened 3rd 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.

Along the Silk & 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 & spice routes discovering how trade, travel, and cultural exchange transformed and remade the ancient world.

The Art of War
Throughout history cultures have valued their weapons both for utilitarian purposes and as objects of beauty.  Artisans decorated and embellished them to emphasize the wealth and importance of their owners.  Both weapons and warfare are also the subjects of paintings, sculpture, and other forms of artistic expression. Examine the Art of War across Asia through the exceptional pieces in the Asian’s collection.

The Buddha: Art and Culture
Follow the ancient faith of Buddhism across Asia from its beginnings in northern India more than 2,500 years ago to discover the roles geography, social, and cultural needs played in artistic representations of the Buddha. The political and economic factors that affected the art and the evolution of the Buddhist image are also explored.

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.

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’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. 

Architecture Tours

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 historically 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 guest experience of our world-renowned Museum with our transformation project now underway, resulting in a new 13,000-square-foot-exhibition Pavilion and Art terrace designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY.

Custom Tours

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

Monday and After Hours

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 20 people: $450

After Hours
Package price for up to 10 people: $350
Package price for up to 20 people: $600

Community Speakers Program

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.