Archive of Posts by Jennifer Yin

Manager of Marketing and Digital Engagement

It’s a New Day

Happy Nowruz!

Nowruz (“New Day”) is the Iranian New Year, or Persian New Year, and marks the first day of spring.

The holiday started 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia (modern day Iran), derived from Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest religions. Important themes are reverence for nature, respect for family and community, doing good deeds, and forgiveness.

"Three candles symbolising the Zoroastrian tenets of well thought thoughts, well spoken words and well done deeds" during Nowruz. Photo by Flickr user Courgettelawn

In the week prior to the new year, rituals take place that symbolize a fresh start and the triumph of good over evil. Families conduct spring cleaning as a symbol of forgiving others. Some participate in a fire-jumping ritual, which was a traditional Zoroastrian rite of purification, singing, “Fire, you give me your redness and energy, and I give you my paleness and sickness.”


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The Maharaja Munchies

I don’t know about you, but food consumes my mind almost every waking moment (pun intended).

It should come as no surprise then, that when I had a long visit with our Maharaja exhibition (closing April 8), I got a bad hankering for Indian food. I loved this rich art going experience, gallery by gallery, beautiful object by beautiful object.

But you get hunger pangs from museum fatigue, and the craving is fueled when you see a jade wine flask here or a spice box there.

Maharaja's a superb exhibition, but it makes me hungry. Don't those cloth game board pieces look like Rolo chocolate candies?

This silver spice box, though intended for betel leaf stimulant use, prompted me to think about all the spices used in South Asian cooking


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A cornucopia

Some of my favorite objects in the museum’s fine collection are netsuke — delightful little mini-sculptures that I like to call Japan’s Edo Period cell phone charms, except netsuke are not only ornamental but highly functional.

b70y358The persimmon, a lovely symbol of fall

In a nutshell, they act as toggles (fasteners), used to secure a purse or container suspended on a cord from the sash of a robe.  The museum’s labels explain:

An inro (literally “seal casket”) is a small tiered container that a man would suspend from the sash of his kimono on a silk cord. A netsuke threaded onto this cord would serve as a toggle, and a movable bead (ojime) would keep the inro closed. Inro were used not only to hold seals (sometimes called “chops”)—which function in East Asian cultures in much the same way signatures do in the West—but also to hold other small items such as medicines.


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Shanghai dioramas

A couple years ago, I traveled to Shanghai for the first time on a solo trip. It was awesome! With the World Expo now underway, it seems timely to honor our sister city’s huge “coming out” party with a personal celebration of the unique metropolis.

I’d like to share my pictures from the Shanghai Municipal History Museum. It’s located in Pudong, on the less “interesting” side of the Huangpu River (more developed, boring), in the basement of the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

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Another Asian Art Museum (and Happy Chuseok!)

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Clearly, this isn’t us. It’s another Asian Art Museum, tucked away in Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul. I was delighted to find another “Asian Art Museum” on my travels! Didn’t go in, but it seemed like a humble gallery in someone’s home.

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There goes the neighborhood (in a good way!)

The Asian Art Museum was at the NEW PEOPLE grand opening and first annual JPop Summit Festival this past Saturday in Japantown. Here’s one pic that describes the day:

NEW PEOPLE Grand Opening + JPop Summit Fest

NEW PEOPLE is the country’s first center dedicated exclusively to all things “Jpop” (as in Japanese popular culture, and not strictly Japanese pop music). Launched by the founder / CEO of VIZ Pictures and VIZ Media (manga and anime powerhouse), NEW PEOPLE houses a cinema, gallery, shop, food court (featuring local favorites Delica and Blue Bottle Coffee), boutiques specializing in subculture fashions (be it “Gothic Lolita” or the over-accessorized, rainbow palette of Harajuku).


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When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

If there are two things to learn from the 1960 Japanese movie, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, they are: 1) life is cruel and 2) it’s a man’s world.

The Criterion DVD box description reads:

…a delicate, devastating study of a woman who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo’s very modern postwar Ginza district, entertaining businessmen after work. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to establish her independence in a male-dominated society.
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The Bulb

The Albany Bulb, simply known as “The Bulb,” is a place of eerie mystery, organic / organized chaos,  brackish breeze, and simple beauty. A former landfill, it’s a local unique wonder; as if you rolled a dog park, wetlands, outdoor art gallery, and Mad Max into one destination.  And it offers great views of SF and beyond! Check out the short wiki entry for interesting historical, cultural, and political history. Fascinating place.

In the “sculpture garden,” there were lots of entities created from all sorts of found objects and urban junk. There was even a samurai:

Albany Bulb

Here’s another sculpture (“tortured witch,” I like to call it):

Albany Bulb

If you’re curious, you can see more photos here. As a perpetually shifting landscape, it probably warrants periodical visits. Your dog will thank you too.

Have you seen any interesting “Asian”-esque outdoor art recently?

Samurai: From the green to the Inner Richmond and beyond

For the past few months we’ve been working hard on a fun lil’ project and finally,  the time has come. We are THRILLED to unveil it.

Are you ready? Here we go…

Though the final products have strayed from the original storyboards, the overall take away message remains and echoes a major theme of Lords of the Samurai: there’s more to samurai than you think.

The star samurai is none other than our very own “Kenji,” the museum’s school programs associate.

We hope you enjoy! If you dig them, then please help spread the word and share the love. Let us know what you think. We love comments / feedback!

A special shout out goes to Sean Dana / 7G Productions, for realizing our vision on limited resources. His wicked sense of humor was right in line with our intended hamminess, and he’s super-creative!

Soon to pepper the streets of SF…

En route to the main library (our neighbor), I saw the banner and flag company switching out banners along Hyde Street. Such timing! I’ve never witnessed the process before so it was somewhat educational…Unfortunately, these guys will have to do this for at least a hundred streetpoles throughout SF. But good for us!

Approaching the banner for our recently de-installed Bhutan exhibition

oooh aaaah


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