You don't have to be a connoisseur of Asian art to appreciate a visit to this museum whose monumental exterior conceals a light, open, and welcoming space. The fraction of the Asian's collection on display (about 2,500 pieces out 15,000-plus total) is laid out thematically and by region, making it easy to follow historical developments.
Begin on the third floor, where highlights of Buddhist art in Southeast Asia and early China include a large, jewel-encrusted, exquisitely
painted 19th-century Burmese Buddha and clothed rod puppets from Java. On the second floor you can find later Chinese works, as well as pieces from Korea and Japan. The joy here is all in the details: on a whimsical Korean jar, look for a cobalt tiger jauntily smoking a pipe, or admire the delicacy of the Japanese tea implements. The ground floor is devoted to temporary exhibits, often traveling shows such as recent ones about Balinese art, and the transformation of yoga. For much of the year the museum stays open late on Thursday and hosts Matcha, an evening of cocktails, music, and activities related to current exhibitions.
200 Larkin St., between McAllister and Fulton Sts., San Francisco, California, 94102, USA
Jan 6, 2006
I visited the AAM in SF several times when it inhabited a far smaller space in Golden Gate Park, and the new digs in the old SF Public Library are indeed spectacular. In the old space, only about 4% of the collection was actually on exhibit, due to the small space, and now almost 80% of the collection is on permanent display. (I wish the contextual guides were better, but I know far more Asian history than most visitors, and perhaps that does me a
disservice, since I expect more detail.) The cafe is a great little place, perfect for lunch, interesting food, and always well-prepared. Try out one of their teas; tea is served in cast-iron teapots that are worth 100x the cost of the tea. A very welcome change from most Civic Center lunch fare.
Sep 6, 2003
This repurposing of the old SF Main Library is simply splendid. The objects on display look fabulous and the ambience of this museum is superb. I'm not even that interested in Asian art, but the way everything is laid out drew me in. The cafe, which has some reasonably priced Asian-influenced food, is very good too.