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Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum Launches New Brand

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum Launches New Brand to Engage Broader Audience

SAN FRANCISCO, September 27, 2011 – The Asian Art Museum, one of the City of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection, announced today that it is reinventing itself with a new brand to engage a broader audience. The brand aims to deliver on the museum’s new artistic vision to spark connections across cultures and through time, making Asian art and culture more relevant and meaningful for all.

The museum, which in 2003 moved from Golden Gate Park to San Francisco’s Civic Center, is shifting its focus from presenting artworks to delivering art experiences centered on artworks.

“The Asian Art Museum is a portal to worlds of unbound imagination, creativity and beauty. We explore these themes in a global context and invite all to discover their connections to Asian art and culture,” said Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum, also officially known as the Asian Art Museum—Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. “Our new brand promises to awaken the past and inspire the next. It means we’ll unlock the past for visitors and bring it to life by sparking connections. We’ll also be a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.”

The Asian Art Museum’s brand transformation will occur in stages, with initial efforts that include an expanded focus on contemporary Asian art. One example is an exhibition currently on view through January, Poetry in Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. In addition to more than sixty traditional ceramic masterworks from Korea, the exhibition includes works composed of ceramic shards, and even more startling, “ceramics” that pass at first glance as traditional East Asian pieces, yet are actually made of lightly fragranced soap, an unexpected medium that triggers questions about viewers’ notions of the permanence of ceramics.

The point of emphasizing these connections, said Xu, is to deliver stimulating, sometimes unexpected art experiences that entice visitors to discover more, and to view art from different perspectives.

Contemporary expressions will play a large role in two of the museum’s upcoming exhibitions, Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts, opening October 21, and Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, opening in spring 2012. Playing on its strengths, the Asian Art Museum will link contemporary works to objects from the museum’s collection of historic art spanning 6,000 years.

Maharaja is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the rich culture of India’s great kings and their artistic patronage. It features 200 spectacular works of art including elaborate jewelry, ornate weaponry, royal costumes, and exquisite paintings. For a contemporary perspective, the Asian Art Museum is partnering with local Bay Area artist and Pixar animator Sanjay Patel. Maharaja inspired Patel, who has published three books featuring his vibrant illustrations of Hindu deities, to create his own joyful and striking interpretations, which will be displayed inside the museum as well as in exhibition promotional material. This commissioning of contemporary works to add a new dimension to a primarily historical art exhibition is a first for the museum.

Taking Asian cosmology and spirituality as its theme, Phantoms of Asia seeks to rediscover invisible interconnectivity through the histories, cultures and religions of Asia. A pan-Asian collection of contemporary works will be shown in tandem with historic works from the museum’s collection to spark imaginations beyond space and time. Visitors can experience Phantom’s presence throughout the building — another first for the museum — including its first-floor special exhibitions galleries, the second- and third-floor collection galleries, and one installation that will fill the museum’s North Court.

Bollywood dancing lessons, ceramic pot throwing, and even a taste of Asian aphrodisiacs are on the rich menu of performances, demonstrations and events planned for coming months.

International brand consultancy Wolff Olins helped to redefine the brand and designed a new logo to directly reflect the museum’s bold vision and new perspective. Its graphic, upside down A mark, accompanied by the word “Asian,” also communicates the museum’s desire to engage all: in mathematics, an upside down A denotes “for all.”

“We were attracted by the museum’s ambitious vision and desire to build a brand to unlock the potential of its vast collection and thought leadership. Beyond visual expression, the new brand will transform the visitor experience over time to create new ways of connecting the collection and the community, ultimately leading to more visitors and support for its vision,” said Nick O’Flaherty, Strategy Director at Wolff Olins.

The launch of the museum’s new brand is well-timed. The Asian Art Museum, which successfully restructured its long-term debt earlier this year, is on sound financial footing and eager to expand its reach and impact. Moreover, the growing global influence of Asia makes the museum’s mission—to lead a diverse, global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture—ever more relevant.

“More than half of the world lives in Asia,” said Xu. “Here in San Francisco, one-third of the population identify themselves as Asian. Opening our minds and hearts to the arts and cultures of this part of the world is an important step in better understanding the people, politics and influences that drive this vast, dynamic region of diverse cultures.”

“We’re on a life-long journey to raise the bar in delivering stimulating, relevant and inspiring experiences,” added Xu. “There are many stories to tell, important artworks to reveal, and new ideas to be developed and shared. We’re ready to lead the discussion.”

About the Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum—Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renown collection of more than 18,000 Asian Art treasures spanning 6000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life, while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: (415) 581-3500 or

Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Hours: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. From January through October, hours are extended on Thursdays until 9:00 pm. Closed Mondays, as well as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

General Admission: FREE for museum members, $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), $7 for college students with ID, $7 for youths 13–17, and FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. Admission on Thursdays after 5:00 pm is $5 for all visitors (except those under 12, SFUSD students, and members, who are always admitted FREE). Admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). A surcharge may apply for admission into special exhibitions.

Access: The Asian Art Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information regarding access: (415) 581-3598; TDD: (415) 861-2035