Asian Art Museum – San Francisco

Asian Art Museum – San FranciscoAsian Art Museum – San FranciscoAsian Art Museum – San Francisco

A treasury of more than 18,000 works of art from 40 countries spanning 6,000 years of human history, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the United States and among the most important outside of Asia. Holding one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world, at any given moment approximately 2,000 individual objects representing all the major cultures of Asia are on view in galleries devoted to Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, the Himalayan Kingdoms and the Tibetan Buddhist World, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Persia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Comprised of paintings, sculptures, jades, bronzes, porcelains, furniture, textiles, arms and armor and much more, the collection is displayed in a majestic, Beaux Arts former public library in the San Francisco Civic Center repurposed into the museum by architect Gae Aulenti who also designed the transformation of Paris’s Orsay train station into the Musée d’Orsay.

Many of the finest objects in the museum’s collection were donated by Chicago industrialist Avery Brundage in the 1960s. His generosity served as the impetus for the museum’s founding and many of the celebrated works on display, including the museum’s noted gilded bronze, “Seated Buddha,” dating to 338, the oldest known dated Chinese Buddha in the world, are among the 7,700 works in the permanent collection Brundage donated over a period of two decades.

Other highlights of the collection include world-class sculptures such as the, “Standing Brahma (Bonten),” (Nara period – 710-794),  and, “Standing Indra (Taishakuten)” (Nara period – 710-794) from Japan, both lavishly inlaid with semiprecious stones, a stunning representation of the Buddhist deity, “Simhavaktra Dakini,” (Qing dynasty – 1644-1911) from China, a pair of statues of the Hindu deities, “Shiva,” and, “Parvati,” (1000-1100) from Cambodia and the monumental, “The Buddha triumphing over Mara,” (900-1000) from India.

The collection is also especially noted for its Chinese jades dating from the neolithic period to the modern era, Goryeo-dynasty (918-1342) celadons (pale sea-green porcelain and fine pottery) as well as rare unglazed stoneware from the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE–668 CE) and Unified Silla period (668–935) in Korea. The collection of Korean, “Bojagi,” or wrapping cloths, a type of folk art quilted textile is also among the finest in the world. The collection also includes a large group of rare, Chinese, Himalayan and Japanese paintings that range in style from courtly to scholarly and Buddhist to folk.

The museum also features world class temporary exhibitions, live demonstrations of traditional forms of artistic production, learning activities and workshops for both children and adults, an excellent on-site restaurant, Cafe Asia, and a gift shop full of unique art objects and a wide range of publications. The museum pursues a policy of swapping out and reinstalling examples from the permanent collection  on a twice yearly basis so even if you have visited before there is always something new and exciting to see for the first time.


“Seated Buddha” (338) - China

“Seated Buddha” (338) – China

"Goryeo Dynasty Celadon Ewer" (1100-1200 AD) - Korea

“Goryeo Dynasty Celadon Ewer” (1100-1200 AD) – Korea

"Jade Boy Riding an Elephant" (17th–18th Century) - China

“Jade Boy Riding an Elephant” (17th–18th Century) – China

Official Museum Site

 San Francisco Asian Art Museum

200 Larkin Street

San Francisco, CA 94102



Current Exhibitions:

Divine Bodies

March 9, 2018 through July 29, 2018


Traces of the Past and Future – Fu Shen’s Painting and Calligraphy

December 5, 2017 through September 16, 2018


Liu Jianhua – Collected Letters



Hung Yi – Dragon Fortune



Upcoming Exhibitions:


April 9, 2018 through June 10, 2018


A Guided Tour of Hell

April 20, 2018 through September 16, 2018


Must See in the Permanent Collection:

  • “Shiva” (1000-1100) – Cambodia

  • “Parvati” (1000-1100) – Cambodia

  • “Seated Buddha” (338) – China

  • “Avery Brundage Jade Gallery” (10,00 B.C. – 1900 A.D.) – China

  • “Shang Dynasty Bronze Ritual Vessel in the Shape of a Rhinoceros” (1100-1050) – China

  • “Qing Dynasty Simhavaktra Dakini” (1644-1911) – China

  • “The Buddha Triumphing over Mara” (900-1000) – India

  • “Nara Period Standing Brahma (Bonten)” (710-794) – Japan

  • “Nara Period Standing Indra (Taishakuten)” (710-794) – Japan

  • “Goryeo-Dynasty Celadons” (918-1342) – Korea

  • “Three Kingoms and Unified Silla Periods Unglazed Stoneware” (57-935) – Korea

  • “Embroidered Silk Bojagi with Tree-of-Life Motif” (1960-1970) – Han Sang-Soo


Visiting Hours:

Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m on Tuesday through Sunday.

Open 10 a.m to 9 p.m on Thursday.

Closed on Monday.



$15 for adults.

$10 for seniors, college students with current I.D. and youths (13-17).

Free for children 12 and under.

Free for all every first Sunday of the month.

Special exhibitions may require purchase of premium tickets.


Purchase Tickets Online




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