Located at 46 N. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California, USC Pacific Asia Museum is an Asian art museum totally dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands, serving the Greater Southern California region. The museum was founded in 1971 by the Pacificulture Foundation featuring the structures to the city for art and cultural purposes as Asian art and antiques. In 2013, the museum became part of the University of Southern California. It is one of the great treasures of the museum being an important extraordinary example of Chinese architecture, designated a Cultural Heritage Landmark by Pasadena and Los Angeles. Also, collection of unique Asian inspired clothing and jewelry, books and decorative accessories in the Museum Gift Store.
In 1976 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1989 declared a Historical Landmark status. It also features some of the rare and representative examples of art from throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands. The mission of this museum is to preserve, present and interpret the arts and culture of the Pacific Islands and Asia in order to promote appreciation of these cultures. The main mission is to preserving, presenting and construeing the arts and culture of Pacific Islanders and Asians to the public. The design and style is made in such a way it looks like Chinese imperial palace and features a central courtyard with a garden, a small pool, and decorative carvings. The galleries surround an inner courtyard garden with a koi pond. The Chinese Garden is an exhibit in itself, featuring architectural elements, sculptures and plants that play a significant role. A zig-zag bridge prevents evil from making its way into the garden. Deer sculptures signify long life. Lotuses symbolize purity and the potential for enlightenment.
The museum’s mission is to further encourage intercultural understanding through the arts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The museum fulfills its mission by organizing and presenting exhibitions, performances, lectures, classes, workshops, and festivals, all drawing on the arts and cultures.
Gardens and Buildings:
The museum courtyard is enthused by the classic gardens of China where architecture is in harmony with nature consists of many of the traditional plants and decorative elements that support this unity. The courtyard remains a focal point, providing transition between public and private space. While the layout, pond and plants have changed over the years. Some of the traditional artifacts are Taihu Rocks, Dragon, peon, Stone lions, Pine, Bamboo and Plum, etc. The pond contains carp or koi traditional fishes found in a Chinese garden. Where as the building named as Grace Nicholson Building became a center for the arts in Pasadena, and was host to many cultural organizations.
Rare and representative examples of art and ethnographic objects from Asia and the Pacific Islands could be easily seen here at this museum. Some of the major collections includes Harari Collection of Japanese paintings and drawings from the Edo period, significant holdings in Chinese ceramics and textiles,Japanese folk paintings, a South Pacific tapa collection, the Lydman and Snukal Collections of Chinese ceramics, Southeast Asian Ceramics from the Collection of Margot and Hans Ries, a fine collection of Buddhist art and as well as the complete prints of Paul Jacoulet. From Himalayan Buddhas to Chinese porcelain and Japanese costumes, the quality and range of Nicholson’s collection is stellar.
The Museum provides active exhibition and education programs to promote increased understanding and appreciation of all cultures. The Museum’s permanent collection contains more than 14,000 rare and representative works and artifacts from Asia and the Pacific Islands, Rotating themed exhibits spanning a period of five thousand years. The museum is relatively small, with a half dozen galleries around the courtyard which display the art and cultural elements of Asia and the Pacific Islands. You may see Japanese abstract paintings, a thousand years of Chinese ceramics, Tibetan furniture, costumes of Korea or Pakistan, or Buddhist icons from many cultures. There are also expanded virtual exhibits on the museum’s web site that go into greater depth and present additional items from the collection.
Ticket Types Adult: $8 Gate Price $9 Student (with ID)/Senior (ages 62+) $6 Gate Price $7 Children under 12 members are free. Free admission every fourth Friday of the month.
Hours of Operation:
Weekdays: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Closed on Monday and Tuesday
The Pacific Asia Museum offers ongoing programs including guest lectures, the “Authors on Asia” series, Tai Chi classes, Chinese Brush Painting classes and other special events. Guided school visits consist of an hour-long guided tour of the museum’s galleries, led by a docent, and an hour-long art workshop, led by a local artist. Free tours can be scheduled for groups of 10 or more. Some are free with admission, others require a separate fee. Group visit is self-guided and you will be exploring the museum without a docent which needs a reservation. All these provide quality arts programming and education to children and families. The Gift Shop has a nice selection of books, handcrafts, replicas and Asian antiques.
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