Serving as a bridge of understanding between Asia and the United States and among the diverse cultures of Asia
Strategically located on the Pacific Rim and serving one of the most diverse communities in the United States, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco – Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is uniquely positioned to lead a diverse, global audience in discovering the distinctive materials, aesthetics and intellectual achievements of Asian art and cultures, and to serve as a bridge of understanding between Asia and the United States and among the diverse cultures of Asia.
The museum’s collection galleries on the second and third floors feature more than 2,000 artworks from all the major cultures of Asia. Artworks in the galleries are regularly rotated, offering visitors a chance to view more of the museum’s collection.
From portraits of Indian rulers to embodiments of the spiritual power of Hindu deities to a contemporary artist's Museum Shop of Fetish Objects, the South Asian collection features artworks created over a period of two thousand years in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Included are more than nineteen hundred sculptures, paintings, historical photographs, and decorative art objects of silver, jade, ivory, and other precious materials.
Images of Hindu and Buddhist gods in bronze and stone, paintings of heroic epics, and elaborately decorated luxury goods highlight the collection of arts from Southeast Asia (particularly Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam).
The Himalayan department curates art from Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and China. The objects in the collection include bronze and lacquer sculptures ranging in date from the twelfth to the twentieth century. More than 150 paintings from the same date range rotate twice per year. Our bronzes and paintings were mostly created by and for the practice of Vajrayana or esoteric Buddhism, but elements of Hinduism, Taoism, and Bon are here as well.
Comprising seven thousand works and spanning more than six thousand years, the Chinese collection ranks among the best outside of China and is the foundation of the museum’s world-renowned Avery Brundage Collection. This remarkable collection presents a panorama of masterworks that embody a vast, complex, and diverse range of styles, designs, and craftsmanship, with strengths in ritual bronzes, jade carvings, Buddhist sculpture, lacquerwares, and decorative ceramics.
The Asian Art Museum has been at the forefront in promoting and collecting Korean art and culture outside of Korea. The museum's distinctive Korean art collection encompasses more than eight hundred objects. It is especially noted for its Goryeo-dynasty (918–1392) celadons, as well as rare unglazed stonewares from the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE–668 CE) and Unified Silla period (668–935).
Japan is an archipelago of four major and numerous smaller islands. The islands lie in an arc across the Pacific coast of northeastern Asia. Japan's closest neighbors are Korea and China, which both greatly inspired Japanese art and culture. For much of its history, the seas protected Japan from invasion, and over time foreign ideas were incorporated into a unique cultural setting.