Archive for 'Emerald Cities'

Striving for number one

emerald cities at bangkok international airport

The number two best seller at Asia Books in Bangkok’s international airport is the Asian Art Museum’s Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma 1775-1950. We’ll keep working to get the top spot!

See you in Shanghai

The end of Emerald Cities, a farewell to the treasures of Burma and Thailand, and words fail me.

Better to let a photograph do the work.

AFP/Getty Images

Pandaphants. AFP/Getty Images

Art Making Hour with the Whole Family

One of my favorite memories from childhood is about a clay project my family and I did after a memorable visit to a local museum’s Picasso ceramics exhibition (this was when I had no idea who PICASSO was). We (mostly my mom) carefully extracted whole skeleton from a fish and made impression on a slab of clay and made it into a shallow dish. My mother’s colleague fired it in a kiln for us, and she inaugurated it by having a fish dish in it that night. I soon graduated to making ashtrays by myself, and those simple art projects with my mother set me on the path of enjoying making art (and now I know who Picasso was).

Here are some of the samples of art activities from the museum’s awesome Education team. My current favorites are Japanese Teahouse and Thai Spirit House making, since they appeal to my sense of accomplishment. For more fun activities, please see the museum’s family program page.




Have you taken your daily tour?


Museum staff enjoy a tour of Emerald Cities with curator Dr. Forrest McGill.

This past Friday, Chief Curator Forrest McGill took the staff of the Asian Art Museum on a tour of Emerald Cities. Such staff tours are a bit of a tradition after each exhibition opening — with all the busy schedules around here it can be surprising hard to find time to actually look at the art!
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Praise for Emerald Cities, and the best time to visit

The best time to visit is now. This exhibition had a relatively modest PR budget, so its opening was softer than that of some other shows. But everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it says it is fantastic. That means it will be a word of mouth show, where attendance is likely to build as time goes by. Visit soon if you like a little elbow room.

Okay, fair warning: as you may have gathered, I like this show, and what follows are excerpts from and links to some of the press and online reviews (and a couple of videos), which I hope might convey something of the quality of the show. If a litany of praise is not your thing, then you can stop reading here. But if you’re considering visiting and want to hear what others are saying, then read on . . .

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Burmese Puppets

Here is something to get you in the mood for the Burmese puppets that will grace our museum later this week. I found a wonderful video on the creation of these amazing puppets on YouTube by director Khi Phu Shin.
At the museum, there will be demonstrations by the Mandalay Marionette Theater Thursday night at our MATCHA event and also during AsiaAlive October 27th through the 31st. Hope to see you there.

Orchids: A Tribute to Doris Duke

As if Emerald Cities wasn’t glitzy enough, we’ve go a little extra eye candy for visitors attending opening week festivities. For one week only, the Asian Art Museum is presenting Orchids: A Tribute to Doris Duke. Doris Duke, who collected many of the works on view in Emerald Cities, was also a great lover of orchids. In her honor, we’ve invited floral designers from around the bay area to each create a display of these tropical beauties in the museum’s North and South Courts. These striking arrangements will be on view this week through Sunday October 25.  Enjoy them while they last!


An Emerald Cities teaser


While wandering the museum this week, you may notice lots of activity on the ground floor outside of our special exhibition galleries. Although the majority of Emerald Cities activity is happening behind screens and closed doors — accessible only to exhibition staff — we do have a small teaser in the works. Two metal sculptures from the show will visibly grace North Court starting this week. 
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Big Brother in Burma


It’s a much-repeated joke in Burma that George Orwell wrote not one but three books about Burma.  His Burmese Days showed Burma during the British Raj, while 1984 and Animal Farm neatly summed up the totalitarian regime that turned one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia into one of the poorest.

This is my rather roundabout way of saying that if you don’t have plans for Sunday or Monday, please go to the Red Vic Movie House to see Anders Østergaard’s Burma VJ.  I haven’t yet seen it, but a friend who exhausted herself at the last Sundance Festival said that it was probably one of the best docs she’d seen.

Usually I eschew pushing media I haven’t experienced firsthand, but the trailer gives me the shivers.  Sadly, it also reinforces the truth of the sick Orwellian joke that has been visited upon the people of Burma for too long.

This will be no passive experience, as the Burmese American Democratic Alliance and the Buddhist-inspired Clear View Project will be on hand after each evening screening for what surely will be an intense Q&A.

Please set us know what you think in the comments if you do go!

Space Aliens Invade Emerald Cities

Emy Kim IMG_3742

No, actually it is contract conservator Emy Kim finishing the cleaning and consolidation of the surface of an elaborately lacquered, gilded, and inlaid table from nineteenth-century Siam that will be on view in the Emerald Cities exhibition.

She wears a respirator for protection from the fumes from solvents used in the cleaning.