Social media is obsessed with throw back Thursdays, so I thought I would write a quick blog throwing it back to my visit to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA last December. The Bowers is a small city museum that has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and has a range of permanent and traveling exhibitions on display. I have been to the museum several times over the years, and have enjoyed what they have had to offer visitors. Their permanent exhibits have a variety of historical interests local to California, and to their well-established population of local Asian residents.
Their traveling exhibitions and new gallery are excellent, but it has come at the cost of some of their older permanent displays about Californian history. Cases are dirty on the inside, and repairs made to the interior lighting can be seen from the exterior of their displays. Having said that, their permanent exhibitions on Asian culture have beautiful interpretive panels and the atmosphere of the gallery is simple- they makes a great backdrop for the objects on display, which are often ornately decorated and complex.
This past December I visited to take a peek at two of their temporary exhibitions that I really enjoyed. The first was Heavenly Horses, which showed the impact that horses had on Chinese and Japanese culture through their artistic depictions. The exhibition was small, but beautiful. I am unfamiliar with Asian art, and felt that the interpretations and displays in the exhibition were accessible and enjoyableI also was keen to see the Spirits and Headhunters exhibition, which was about the art of the Pacific Islands. This exhibition is currently ongoing. I enjoyed this exhibit. The space was appropriately used, incorporating both wall color and lighting to set the tone for the exhibition. The suspension of masks from the ceiling brought them to life, and videos with the sound of dancing and singing showed the masks in context. The space was interesting to navigate, and allowed visitors to view most items on display in a 360-degree manner. The photographs are haunting and provocative. Human remains on display include human teeth necklaces and shrunken heads- I do wonder about the authenticity of shrunken heads and the ethical trappings surrounding them, but I am sure that the museum has taken this into account.
I have always enjoyed the Bowers Museum, and recommend it for those who are in the Santa Ana and Orange County area. The museum is relatively small and will only take a few hours at a leisurely pace. Check it out and let me know what you liked!
Peace and long life.