“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.” ~ Bowers.org
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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”
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.
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.
“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.” ~ Bowers.org
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!
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.
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.