Chong-Moon Lee Center – The Asian Art Museum In San Francisco

The Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is the official name, but locals know it as the Asian Art Museum. This Pan-Asian wonder spans 6,000 years of history with a mind-boggling 18,000 treasures from China to Sri Lanka.

The museum's most treasured object os the oldest known Chinese Buddha. The gilt-bronze statue dates back to 338 BCE and is often cited as a classic example of Chinese Buddhist art

It all began in the 1960s when a Chicago industrialist and art collector, Avery Brundage, donated many of his prized objects to the then small museum. His generous donation laid the foundation for the beginning of the Chong-Moon Lee Center. The staggering collection includes nearly twenty thousand objects — paintings, ceramics and porcelains, miniature jades to giant sculptures, lacquers, textiles, arms and armor, puppets, basketry and furniture — that trail the Asian world from Tibet to Korea from the earliest times known in history.

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Asian Art Museum – China

China

The museum's Chinese Buddhist art includes stone sculpture, paintings, bronzes, lacquers, textiles, ceramics and porcelains that date back 4500 years.

Many of the Chinese ritual bronzes date from 3000 years ago and the prized collection include jades from the Neolithic period up to the 21st century. There's also calligraphic works and paintings from the 10th century and objects made of ivory, bamboo and valuable carved rhinoceros horn vessels.

The Japanese Collection

Japanese

The largest and probably best collection outside of Japan are found here — bamboo baskets, rare painted screens and scrolls, decorative arts and textiles. There are ceramics from the 3rd millennium BCE, Buddhist sculpture and paintings and woodblock prints from the 18th century.

The Korean Collection

The Korean Collection

This part of the museum features an amazing collection of celadons, lacquerware and textiles from the Goryeo dynasty, precious stonewares from 57 BCE to 668 CE known as the Three Kingdoms period and the Unified Silla period (668 to 935 CE). You'll also discover Korean paintings that capture Buddhist and folk traditions, as well as paintings from all eras of Korean art.

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The Southeast Asian Collection

The Southeast Asian Collection

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco also boasts one of the most important collections of Thai paintings, Thai ceramics and sculpture in the world. There are also ancient stone and bronze artifacts from Angkor Wat and a collection of daggers called krises from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Included in the massive collection are terracotta works, textiles, sculptures and jewelry from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Burma.

Other Museum Collections

Other Museum Collections

South Asian Collection — From the birthplace of Buddhism are temple sculptures, bronze images, paintings and wood carvings capturing the major trends in all the religions of India over a 2000 year period including Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh traditions.

The Himalayas and the Tibetan Buddhist World — See rare Tibetan scrolls, bronze sculpture, and Bhutanese textiles from ancient monasteries.

The Persian World and West Asia — Discover ceramics, manuscripts, Islamic bronzes and miniature paintings from the Neolithic period to the 19th century.

San Francisco Asian Art Museum Resources

  • Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture
  • 200 Larkin Street, Civic Center
  • Website
  • Open Tuesday to Sunday, Late night Thursday until 9 pm
  • Admission: $15 at the door
  • Admission Notes: Free entrance is included with the GO San Francisco Card, along with 25 other museums and top attractions.

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