USC Pacific Asia Museum

Coordinates: 34°08′48″N 118°08′28″W / 34.1467°N 118.1411°W / 34.1467; -118.1411
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USC Pacific Asia Museum
USC Pacific Asia Museum, exterior.
Location46 N. Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, California
Coordinates34°08′48″N 118°08′28″W / 34.1467°N 118.1411°W / 34.1467; -118.1411
ArchitectMarston, Van Pelt & Maybury
NRHP reference No.77000300[1]
CHISL No.988
Added to NRHPJuly 21, 1977

USC Pacific Asia Museum is an Asian art museum located at 46 N. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California, United States.

The museum was founded in 1971 by the Pacificulture Foundation, which purchased "The Grace Nicholson Treasure House of Oriental Art" from the City of Pasadena. Grace Nicholson donated the structure to the city for art and cultural purposes in 1943 and was a dealer in Native American and, later, Asian art and antiques.[2] It houses some 15,000 rare and representative examples of art from throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands. In 2013, the museum became part of the University of Southern California.[3] The building was temporarily closed beginning June 27, 2016 until December 2017 for a seismic retrofit and renovation. It has reopened as of December 8, 2017 with new operating hours.[4]

The building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1926 and designed by the architectural firm of Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury. It is designed in the style of a Chinese imperial palace and features a central courtyard with a garden, a small pool, and decorative carvings.[5]


  • The Art of Pacific Asia
  • Japanese
  • Snukal Ceramics
  • Journeys: The Silk Road
  • South and Southeast Asian
  • Himalayan
  • Korean

Notable exhibits[edit]

Yaksha Kuber, USC Pacific Asia Museum

One of the museum's 2009 exhibits looked at the mash-up of Chinese calligraphy and American graffiti. US-China Today has an article and slide show on the exhibit and a video featuring the curator and a couple of the artists who contributed to the exhibit: Calligraffiti: Crossing the Divide.

  • China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970 (August 6, 2010- Feb. 6, 2011)
  • Japan in Blue and White (March 25, 2010- March 6, 2011)
  • "Following the box"- Exhibition inspired by found photographs taken in India during World War II ( Sep 2019- Jan 2020) [2]
USC Pacific Asia Museum, central courtyard with a garden, a small pool, and decorative carvings

California Historical Landmark Marker[edit]

California Historical Landmark Marker NO. 988 at the site reads:[6]

  • NO. 988 PACIFIC ASIA MUSEUM (GRACE NICHOLSON'S TREASURE HOUSE OF ORIENTAL AND WESTERN ART) - Grace Nicholson, a noted collector and authority on American Indian and Asian Art and artifacts, supervised the design of her combination gallery and museum which was completed in 1929. It has been called an outstanding example of 1920s revival architecture and is unique for its use of Chinese ornamentation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Building and Garden Archived 2011-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, USC Pacific Asia Museum, 2011
  3. ^ Boehm, Mike (2013-11-19). "USC absorbs Pasadena's Pacific Asia Museum in friendly takeover". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  4. ^ [1], USC Pacific Asia Museum, 2017
  5. ^ Brewer, Polly (November 10, 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form: Grace Nicholson Building". National Park Service. Retrieved August 5, 2013. Accompanied by photos.
  6. ^ 988, USC Pacific Asia Museum

External links[edit]