AAA Editor Notes
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 200 Larkin St. at Civic Center Plaza, is home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 art treasures spanning some 6,000 years of history, from Japanese painted scrolls, bamboo baskets and Korean lacquerware to Thai paintings and rare Tibetan scrolls. Among the many highlights are Indonesian puppets and krises (daggers), jewel-encrusted swords, Bronze Age weapons and chariot fittings, and a notable collection of Buddhas. The museum also displays contemporary and 21st-century art.
Chinese ceramics, jades, bronzes and porcelains survey the entire history of these art forms. A ritual vessel in the shape of a rhinoceros (in gallery 14 on the third floor) underscores the importance of this endangered animal in Chinese culture; rhino horns were both ground into medicine and carved into elaborate cups used by the wealthy. An extravagantly decorated, late 19th-century elephant throne, or howdah, from India once functioned as a ceremonial conveyance for kings and other members of royalty.
On seasonal Thursday evenings the museum is open late and offers reduced admission. In addition to perusing the galleries, visitors can meet artists, listen to talks and attend special entertainment events.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.