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  • Asian Art MuseumAsian Art Museum San Francisco, California
    The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California houses one of the most exhaustive Asian Art collections in the world, and moved into its new digs in 2003, after sharing space with the de Young Museum located in Golden Park. The new home for the museum was the former city library building that sits across from the San Francisco Civic Center, and was refurbished under the guidance of Italian architect Gae Aulenti. The excellent collection contains about 17,000 artworks and relics that have been acquired from all the main Asian countries and their cultures, many of which are 6000 years old or more. There are some major galleries that are dedicated to collecting the artworks of south Asia, China, Japan, west Asia that includes Persia, the Himalayas, southeast Asia and Korea. In the permanent collection, there are 2500 works by Asian masters in all medias of art. The museum got its start with a generous gift of Chicago millionaire, Avery Brundage, who had been an important collector of Asian artworks, which was the Society for Asian Art that started in 1958 and the society was started specifically to acquire the Brundage Collection. The museum itself opened in 1966, in a wing of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park, and still donated to the museum, as well as the remainder of his collection when he passed on in 1975. Altogether, Brundage gave over 7700 pieces of Asian artworks to the city, and in 1995, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Chong-Moon Lee gave $15 million to begin the campaign for a new building for the museum. The museum would become one of the main facilities for traveling and special exhibitions, that contained the first important Chinese display that traveled outside the country of China since the ending of WWII; which display occurred in 1975; a display of Wisdom and Compassion that was opened by the Dalai Lama in 1991 and an archaeological display that welcomed 800,000 visitors in just an eight week period.  The museum, in fact, is one of the biggest museums in the western world that is dedicated almost exclusively to the acquisition and display of Asian art, allowing visitors to travel to the orient through visions and images of that exciting region. The magnificent collection has enabled the museum to offer an excellent introductory idea of all the traditions of Asian culture and art, and is quite well known in the academic world since it contains many rare and outstanding works that continue to be referenced in textbooks and journals. The range of the fantastic collection is from arms and armour, basketry, monumental sculptures, miniature jades, porcelains and ceramics, textiles, furniture, paintings, puppets and lacquers. Almost half of these came from the Brundage Collection and still are considered the nucleus that started it all. His donations contain a very rare gilt bronze Buddha that is dated around 338, the oldest discovered Chinese Buddha in the world and believed to be the best example of Chinese Buddhist art in the world. The collection housed on the second and third floors of the museum contain over 2500 works that allow visitors and scholars an almost complete introduction to most of the important cultures of Asia. The galleries are separated into seven distinct regions; China, South Asia, Korea, Japan, Persia, west Asia, southeast Asia, the Himalayas and Tibetan Buddhist; with three main themes entwined in the galleries that pertain to local beliefs and practices, the development of Buddha and trade and cultural exchange. Some highlights include; from China, porcelains and ceramics that span their history of art forms for 4500 years, lacquers, textiles and relics created with bamboo, ivory, cloisonné, horn and glass, almost 300 Chinese ritual bronzes, a few that are almost 3000 years old, paintings and calligraphic works from the 10th to the 21st century, Chinese jades that cover 6000 years of history and Chinese Buddhist art that includes bronzes, stone sculpture and paintings. 

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  • Mission DoloresMission Dolores San Francisco, California
    The Mission San Francisco de Assis is the oldest standing building in the city of San Francisco, California, and the sixth religious settlement in the state that had become part of what was known as the California chain of missions. It was started in 1776, by Lt. Jose Joaquin Moraga and Father Francisco Palou, traveling companion of Father Junipero Serra, who were part of the de Anza Expedition that had been told to bring Spanish settlers to Alta, or upper, California and converting the Native Indians that were called Ohlone. The settlement was named after St. Francis of Assisi, founding father of the Franciscan Order, but would be more often referred to as the Mission Dolores, since the nearby creek had been named Arroyo de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores; which meant "Our Lady of Sorrows Creek". The first mission was constructed of a log and thatch building that was dedicated on October 9, 1776, when the necessary church papers came. It was built about a block and a half from the current mission, with a historical marker placed there. The current mission was dedicated in 1791, and was built of adobe, and became a part of the complex that would be used for agriculture, housing and manufacturing. The chapel, as well as Father Serra's Church at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, are the only two structures that still exist where Father Junipero Serra was known to have officiated. During 1817, the mission San Rafael Arcangel was built to act as the mission's hospital, but later became a full mission in 1822. The Mexican War of Independence, during 1810 to 1821, would cause some problems between the Mexican government and the California missions, with supplies low and the Indians working at the mission always seemed to have health issues, as well as disease and cultural shock; and close to 5000 of them are believed to be buried beside the mission. The Mexican government enacted secularization laws that either sold the lands to private people or gave them grants; thus leaving just the churches, the priests houses and small plots for gardens for the mission to own, with many, including the Mission Dolores falling on hard times. There were only 8 Christian Indians living at the mission by 1842. The gold rush would become the impetus for more visitors coming to live in the region, and during the 1850s, two plank roads would be built from downtown San Francisco to the mission, which soon turned the area into a tourist resort and entertainment neighborhood. A few of the lands belonging to the missions would be sold or leased to use as saloons or gambling halls, as well as racetracks and fighting arenas, like those between bears and bulls. The mission itself would change, with the convento, being converted into a two story wood wing that was used by the seminary and priests' quarters, and a different area became the Mansion House, that became a popular tavern and way station. The Mansion House, which had part of the convento conversion would be torn down in 1876, and replaced by a Gothic Revival brick church that would become the main mission for the increasing number of immigrants that were moving here. Wood clapboard siding would be put on the walls of the original adobe chapel to protect it and make it more pleasing to the eye, but sometime later would be taken down by the mission went it underwent renovations. In the 1906 earthquake, the brick church was destroyed and the original adobe mission sustained some minor damages, but was still in decent condition.

January 11, 2011