Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Asian Art Museum
On Wednesday, I was invited to the press preview of the new exhibition Lords of the Samurai at the Asian Art Museum. As regular readers of this blog already know, I am not an actual jackal of the press, or even a prominent art blogger like my much cooler San Francisco blog buddies sfmike of Civic Center or NamasteNancy. I owe this unlikely invitation entirely to sfmike, who was kind enough to vouch for me, and Michele Dilworth, the Manager of Public Relations who decided there might be value in getting some publicity for the new exhibition on a blog that talks about math, lolz cats, the Whig Party and Julie Newmar's rightful place in history as the quintessential Catwoman.
As a temporary jackal of the press, I should say in full disclosure that I had free reign to sample the breakfast food available before the tour, from which I took an oatmeal cookie, and a really nifty press release on a computer memory stick embossed with the Asian Art Museum logo seen here.
I mean seriously, if you got that kind of treatment, wouldn't you gladly give your benefactors three posts worth of plugs?
Of course you would.
The Asian Art Museum has been one of the pre-eminent collections of art from all over the continent of Asia for the past 40 years. Earlier this decade, the museum moved from its original space as a wing of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park to its new and much larger home at 200 Larkin in the Civic Center neighborhood, into a re-modeled building that previously housed the city's main library. The move was generously underwritten by Chong-Moon Lee, the founder of Diamond Multimedia Systems, and his name now graces the building known as the Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture.
The lion's share of the permanent collection is a bequest from the late Avery Brundage, the Chicago industrialist best known to the world for his association with the Olympic movement. The collection is so large that only about one fifth of all the works can be on display at one time, and the artwork spans 6,000 years of history from cultures spread throughout the continent, from the Persian and Arabic cultures in the west, both before and after the introduction of Islam, to the region known as the Silk Road, east to the civilizations of the Himalayas, south the Indian sub-continent and southeast Asia, as well as extensive collections of Chinese, Korean and Japanese art.
The museum has had many tremendously popular temporary exhibits in the past, including a show of archeological treasures from China that attracted 800,000 visitors in an eight-week period back in 1975. The signature piece of the exhibition was the famous flying horse sculpture, which can be seen at the link to Chinese-Dynasties.org.
Besides the deep connection to the ancient past, the museum also keeps up with the times, and includes a very informative and entertaining blog about the daily goings on behind the scenes. I have included it in the blogs I'm following, so you'll be able to see links to it on my blog buddy list when it is updated.
Again, my thanks to the staff of the Asian Art Museum, to sfmike for his wonderful generosity and to Namaste Nancy for her company and insight on our stroll through the remarkable new exhibit, which will be open to the public from June 12 and through the summer until September 20.