Located in the bustling heart of San Francisco on Larkin Street, the Asian Art Museum stands as a testament to the rich and diverse heritage of Asia. This museum, rightly deemed one of the most premier institutions dedicated to Asian art, houses a stunning collection of over 18,000 artifacts. Some of these awe-inspiring pieces trace their origins back a staggering 6,000 years, offering a unique window into the vast timeline of Asian civilizations.

Founded in the 1960s by the Olympian Avery Brundage, this San Francisco gallery was initially a part of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in the scenic Golden Gate Park. Over the years, the collection grew so expansive that it required its own dedicated space. In 2003, after much anticipation, the museum made a grand relocation to the former San Francisco city library on Larkin Street. This grand building, a Beaux Arts-style masterpiece designed in 1917, underwent extensive renovations led by the brilliant Italian architect Gae Aulenti, transforming it into the modern museum we know today.

What Makes the Asian Art Museum Stand Out?

Visiting the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is like embarking on a mesmerizing journey across Asia. The gallery’s vast collection, spread across multiple galleries, encapsulates the essence of countries like China, Japan, South Asia, Iran, Central Asia, and more. Whether you’re drawn to the intricate sculptures from South Asia, the delicate porcelains from China, or the vibrant paintings from Japan, this gallery has something to captivate every art enthusiast.

But the Asian Art Museum isn’t just about static exhibits. It’s been a focal point for numerous traveling and special exhibitions over the years. One notable exhibition was the first major Chinese exhibition to travel outside China post-World War II in 1975. Such events have consistently made this institution a dynamic and ever-evolving space for Asian art appreciation.

An Exciting Addition: The Museum of Illusions

While you’re in the San Francisco area, diving deep into the realm of Asian art, you might consider expanding your horizons a bit further. Located just a short distance from the Asian Art Museum is the intriguing Museum of Illusions. This unique space offers a contrasting, playful, and immersive experience, challenging your perceptions and offering countless photo opportunities. While it doesn’t boast ancient artifacts, it’s a modern attraction that seamlessly blends fun, science, and art, making it a worthy addition to your San Francisco itinerary.


Visitor Information

One of the intriguing aspects of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, CA, is its commitment to not only preserving art but also fostering understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures in the West. It was founded with the noble intent of creating a “bridge of understanding” between the U.S. and Asia. Over the years, this San Francisco gem has successfully lived up to this mission, becoming an epicenter of cultural exchange. It’s no wonder that in December 2020, the museum was lauded with the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for its tireless efforts in promoting cultural ties through art between Japan and the United States.

The Legacy of the Asian Art Museum

But the journey doesn’t stop here. With its ongoing expansion projects, the Asian Art Museum on Larkin Street is gearing up to bring even more of Asia to the heart of San Francisco. Plans are underway for a new pavilion, expected to add a substantial 9,000 square feet to the gallery’s first floor. This is a clear testament to the museum’s growing stature and its relentless pursuit of excellence in the realm of Asian art. So, whether you’re a returning visitor or planning your first trip, there will always be something new and exciting waiting for you at this San Francisco landmark.

The Future of the Museum

The Asian Art Museum is conveniently located at the heart of San Francisco on Larkin Street. If you’re planning a visit, don’t forget to check for any free day offerings, allowing you to explore this treasure trove without spending a dime. Additionally, CA residents might find special discounts or events tailored just for them. And of course, members of the museum (and their guests) always enjoy free admission. Whether you’re an art aficionado or just someone curious about Asian culture, the Asian Art Museum promises a day filled with discovery and awe.


Yes, besides the extensive collection of Asian art, the Museum of Illusions is another popular attraction located nearby in San Francisco, offering a unique blend of art and interactive experiences.

Not necessarily. The Asian Art Museum occasionally offers free day promotions, allowing visitors to explore its art treasures without any admission cost.  Check their website for this and several other discounts.

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All Access for 2 April special

Access to the Museum of 3D Illusions and SMASH It! for 2 adults (12+ Years Old)
*Waiver Required Upon Check-In

$70 $60
Lucky Combo Pass April Special

Access to the Museum of 3D Illusions for 4 adults.

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Silver VIP Package

VIP Experience for 2 for Museum of Illusions, skip the line, receive a special gift, and get a 1 to 1 experience with our photographer who will take pictures on your camera
*Each additional person will be charged $50 at the front desk. (Up to 4)

$200 $150
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VIP Experience for 2 for Museum of Illusions, skip the line, receive a special gift, and get a 1 to 1 experience with our photographer who uses a professional camera to take your photos, edit them and send them within 10 business days
*Each additional person will be a $65 charge at the front desk. (Up to 4)

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Combo Ripleys x MOI

Access to the Museum of 3D illusions and Ripley's. Believe It or Not! for 1.

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General admission

Access to the Museum of 3D Illusions for 1 (6+ years old).

All Access

Access to the Museum of 3D Illusions and SMASH It! for 1 adult (12+ Years Old)
*Waiver Required Upon Check-In

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Access to the SMASH It! for 1 adult (12+ Years Old). Includes 3 ceramic plates.
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Access to the Museum of 3D Illusions for 1 adult (4+ y.o.). Kids under 4 y.o. FREE


(regular + smash it)