Asian Art Museum

In San Francisco

All photos by author Joanne Olivieri

Japanese - The Buddhist deity - Achala Vidyaraja - 1100 - 1185 (This was one of my favorite pieces).

Japanese - The Esoteric Buddhist King of Passion, Ragaraja - 1600 - 1700

This is a closeup of Amida, the Seated Buddha - Japan (794-1185)

Stone Calligraphy From Iran

The Koran

Japanese Calligraphy

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is one of the world’s largest Asian museums. It was originally located in Golden Gate Park for over 30 years. Due to the large collections housed in the museum, the city - meaning us voters, voted to move it into the newly renovated main public library location in the civic center area of San Francisco. It has been permanently housed there now for about 18 years. To be honest I was against that move. I thought it should have remained in Golden Gate Park. However, that being said the museum is gorgeous. There are floors dedicated to various regions in Asia to include China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Korea, Persia etc.…

There are sculptures and paintings, calligraphy and jewels and so much more. The artwork is strategically placed so that the lighting enhances each piece. These pictures were taken inside, with my inexpensive digital camera and without flash. They did not allow flash within the museum. I never can understand why. Anyway, so as you can see the lighting is excellent.

I am drawn to calligraphy. I wish I could understand the writing. I did and could however imagine the poet who created those intricate pieces and how their passion flowed throughout the scrolls. They are timeless yet simple and elegant pieces of art.

I was also very taken by being able to view the Koran. It is prominently displayed within the Persian exhibit at the museum within a well lighted display case. The writing is in gold and the pages ornately designed.

The Buddhas from all over Asia are simply stunning in this museum. It’s fascinating to explore each Buddha and how they differ from region to region.

The stone calligraphy piece from Iran was also displayed in the Persian exhibit. Again, the calligraphy fascinating and delicately sculptured on stone. It was interesting to see calligraphy in that medium.

I absolutely adore the gift shop there as well. They’ve got everything from art, sculptures, books, music and cards to jewelry, handbags, totes and your standard bric-a-brac. The items in the gift shop are high end. It’s not like those souvenir shops you see all over the touristy areas and the price point reflects that fact.

  • The Asian Art Museum is one in which I frequent. Since my trips to Hong Kong I find myself homesick for my adopted foreign land so being able to get a taste of Asia while at home here in San Francisco is a real treat.

Thank you to the Asian Art Museum for allowing photos to be taken of their art collections. More to come…



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Joanne Olivieri

Joanne Olivieri


Published author, poet and photographer. Love birds, animals, food, art, books, music. Contact -