Asian Art Museum – Ming Dynasty Exhibit

The Asian Art Museum is hosting a special exhibition entitled Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty from June 27-September 21, 2008. Fortunately, Target sponsors a Free First Sundays program that opens admission to the museum for free on the first Sunday of every month. This past Sunday being a “first Sunday,” I headed to San Francisco to see what Ming treasures the museum had in store. I arrived shortly before 10 a.m., which is opening time, and discovered a line that literally wrapped around the museum. You would think that they were selling the beloved iPhone 3G at the gift store or something.

Well, San Francisco being San Francisco, the weather was overcast, cold and windy in the middle of summer. As we entered the museum (about an hour later), we were given tickets that indicated our assigned time for viewing the Ming exhibits. After some more waiting inside the museum, we finally entered the first room at around 11:20 a.m. An hour and 20 minute wait! The Ming art is distributed among 3 exhibit halls on the first floor of the museum. As we proceeded from hall to hall, we had to wait in a new line. Some lines were longer than others.

If you are visiting with a large group, you will save a few bucks by attending the Free Sunday event. However, the experience is sub-optimal from the long lines to the crowded exhibit halls. If you really want to see everything, you need to be patient because each exhibit probably had 10 or so people around it. People packed around the exhibits. More people streaming in. Not quite the quiet and leisurely pace typically found in museums. I don’t know if the museum is less crowded when they charge admission. I should have asked, but was a bit too frazzled from the whole visit.

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