Situated on the Pacific Rim in one of the most diverse communities in the United States, the museum houses works that pre-date written history as well as more recently created pieces.
Representing the broad range of Asian art, many pieces have connections to works from other continents and other millennia, this is one of the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world, with more than 18,000 works of art in its permanent collection, some as much as 6,000 years old.
The museum has been located since 2003 in the former San Francisco city library building opposite the San Francisco Civic Center. The Beaux Arts-style library building was renovated for the purpose under the direction of Italian architect Gae Aulenti.
Whether you go or not, Bridge to Understanding: The Art and Architecture of San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, celebrates the museum's stunning home, showcasing both the beauty of the building and the depth of the collection - hundreds of the finest Asian paintings, sculptures, and textiles - highlighting in a full-color gallery many treasures that could not previously be displayed. The text interweaves the history of the museum with the history of the city, delving into the development, construction, and renovation of the building, which retains such historic features as a monumental beaux arts staircase, while adding a dramatic indoor / outdoor escalator, a new third level, and signature V-shaped skylights that illuminate an indoor courtyard designed by the architect on the model of an Italian piazza.
Works express personal experiences and viewpoints through a centuries-old regional style
40 garments from 1870 to the present plus paintings, prints and textiles