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Asian Art Museum Field Trip in San Francisco Reveals Culture Then and Now

Nov 11, 2009

What is the best way to understand the impact of the Silk Road connecting ancient Eastern and Western civilizations? If you're a student in Professor Gregory Rohlf's East Asian Civilization class, the answer is to attend the annual field trip to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

The East Asian Civilization class offers a broad overview of the rich histories and cultures of East Asia. On Saturday, October 24, Dr. Rohlf's class visited the museum, located in the Civic Center of San Francisco, which houses one of the best collections of Asian art outside of Asia.

The class had two guided tours: "Buddhist Art: Sublime Message and Sacred Symbols" and "Along the Silk Road: Trade, Travel and Transformation." In between tours, many of the 35 students explored San Francisco's Chinatown on their own. The gorgeous fall weather made for a delightful day of window shopping and snacking in Chinatown, and immersed students in a current day Asian culture.

At the museum, Pacific's commitment to experiential learning was evident as students walked among thousand-year-old objects and examined them up close. Many students noted that the Buddhist art objects helped them "visualize the spread of Buddhism." One student said that seeing the dates on the Buddhist statues "reinforced how long Buddhism was around."

"We learned about the Silk Road in class," one of the students commented. "At the museum we saw artifacts that were likely to have been traded along the Silk Road."

Another student concluded, "I really enjoyed the exhibits and the tours. Honestly, I don't think I would have ever gone in my life, but now I think I might go back someday."

Docent Yvonne Chang tells students about this glazed earthenware camel

Docent Yvonne Chang tells students about this glazed earthenware camel with distinctive Tang-era coloring, dating from 690-750.