Bowers Museum ~ Special exhibits are fleeting, don’t miss them.

Bowers Museum Entrance

Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, California ~ Entrance

“The Bowers Museum holds in its collection more than 120,000 works of art. These works were donated from 1935 to the present and represent many regions and cultures of the world. The museum’s largest collections are in the areas of Native American art, Pre-Columbian art, Asian art, art of the Pacific, art of Africa and Orange County history.” ~

I felt like we only got a morsel of all the Bowers Museum had to offer. Arriving just one hour before they closed, we knew we would be rushed to try to cover everything, so decided instead to primarily concentrate on the special exhibits.

Just past the ticket desk is an entire room devoted to Qi Baishi, considered a Master, the Picasso of China, and widely regarded as the most well-known and influential Chinese modern artist. This is the first time this work had been exhibited outside of China and will be shown here until July 11th.  

Qi Baishi Exhibit

Qi Baishi Exhibit

“The marvel of a good painting lies between likeness and unlikeness. If it is an exact likeness, it is catering to vulgar tastes, but no likeness is simply cheating” ~ Qi Baishi

Qi Baishi Exhibit

Qi Baishi Exhibit

Right next door is an exhibit entitled Sacred Realms done by a 69-year-old monk, Shashi Dhoj Tulachand, from Tibet. He has devoted much of his life to the preservation and restoration of an 18th century Tibetan Monastery. There are nine large temple mural panels that showcase the intricate patterns of his work.

Tim studies the patterns

Tim studies the patterns

Traditional thangka painting is centuries old and was used by the monks to teach about Buddha and the Buddhist religion. They are also used for meditation. The vibrant colors are all naturally derived mineral pigments.

Such intricate designs

Such intricate designs

Continuing down the hall, passing by an exhibit currently being refurbished, we come to a First Californians room showcasing part of their permanent collection on Native American art. The basketry collection was top quality with good variety.

Native American art

Native American art

Beaded basket

Coiled beaded basket made out of willow C. 1930 (East Central California)

Housing almost 2,000 paintings, mostly from the late 19th and the 20th century as well as a California plein air collection.

One of the highlights for me was viewing the intricate ceilings in two of the rooms. We have been in awe of the amazingly patterned ceilings we have seen on our travels and have often commented that our ceilings here in the USA are pretty basic and boring in comparison. I was delighted to see that we do have a little pizzazz after all!

Ceiling #1

Ceiling #1 – In California legacies section

Ceiling #2

Ceiling #2 – by Martin Syvertsen (originally from Norway)

California history, especially centered on Orange County, described the rich life of well knowns such as Yorba, Forster, Pico, and Sepulveda. Many of our cities, streets and areas now carry these names.

“California Legacies: Missions and Ranchos (1768-1848) features displays of California and Orange County history”

Silver and leather saddle originally from Mexico, dated 1872

Silver and leather saddle originally from Mexico, dated 1872

Silver spurs of Pio Pico, 1840's

Silver spurs of Pio Pico, 1840’s

Another of the special exhibits “Where Ends Meet”, is also a tribute by and for Nancy Ravenhall Johnson. Nancy worked for the Bowers at a variety of positions. She started as Gallery Store Manager, then Graphic Designer, VP of Public Relations and Director of Creative Design. She was also a talented artist. Sadly she passed away last year, but her creative spirit is evident for all to see in the whimsical, clever creations she left behind.

Work by Nancy Ravenhill

Work by Nancy Ravenhall Johnson

We had run out of time and the museum was about to close on us, but we managed a quick five-minute sprint through the Spirits and Headhunters wing.

Spirits and Headhunters!

Spirits and Headhunters!

“Video taken by Bowers President Peter Keller on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea that features the Fire Dance Mask Festival. Several of the large spirit masks seen in this performance were collected on behalf of the museum and can be viewed in the Spirits and Headhunters exhibition.” ~

Art of the Pacific Islands

Art of the Pacific Islands

Sago storage jar - 20th century

Sago storage jar – 20th century

I was so disappointed that we did not have more time to spend here. There were entire sections of this beautifully laid out museum that we did not get to explore. I appreciate that each room/exhibit is well-organized and spaciously displayed. Nothing is crowded.

Even though we had such limited time at the Bowers Museum, I walked away with an appreciation for the quality pieces this museum has on display.

One final note – don’t miss taking a look at the exceptional photos in the entry lobby taken by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, of the Dinka of Southern Sudan. Outstanding!

The Dinka of South Sudan

The Dinka of Southern Sudan

Located in Santa Ana, they are open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed Monday). Adult tickets are $13 weekday and $15 weekends. Seniors 62+ get a $3 discount.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that art from around-the-world is available to view in my own back yard. I’m also thankful for a cozy kitchen where I can whip up a big pot of homemade soup. Just what I needed for a quiet day of reading, writing, and reflection.

If you would like to subscribe to our blog, just fill in your email address below. Your email address is NEVER shared or made public. We would love to have you join us. 

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

If you like our blog, have something to share or a suggestion, or just want to say hello, please leave us a message in the “Leave a reply” section at the bottom of this page. We value your comments and input.

About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in California, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Bowers Museum ~ Special exhibits are fleeting, don’t miss them.

  1. are the artworks here the original ones?


  2. Love the photographs! Especially love your gratitude comment at the bottom of the post….sounds idyllic:-)


    • Thank you for your visit and comments. Ending each post with a gratitude moment has become enormously satisfying. Sometimes those little, simply occurrences in the day can become the foundation to build upon. By focusing on the positive, we continue to live the dream.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.