Located in Santa Ana, California, the Bowers Museum houses an eclectic collection of ancient cultural artifacts of Pre Columbian, Pan Asian, Pacific Islands, and early California paintings. Named after Charles Bowers, who was a land developer in the 1800s the Mission Revival styled building was opened in 1931 and originally devoted to the history of Orange County. In 1992 the museum reopened completely transformed into what it is now, a center for education and preservation of various cultures and especially ones that make up much of the fit today.
Since this is one of few museums closest to my home I’ve come here quite often, as they regularly hold many different special exhibitions annually.
There are several entrances to the museum, but this is the main one, you can see it right off the road along Main Street.
Enter through the Spanish style gate and walk up these steps to the main door.
Beteween the gate and the main door is a nice lush courtyard where they sometimes hold oudoor cultural events such as concerts, bazaars and lucheon.
Once you enter the door to your left is the museum’s diner that serves gourmet meals inspired by the cuisines of the Pacific Rim
and right across the diner is a cozy little gift shop for the shopaholic of exotic toys
I pay my admission fee at the reception desk, about $13 general (there are discounts for seniors and students of course), and then I turn to the hallway on the left to begin my tour.
This is who will greet you as you pass through the doorway of the hall. Dont worry he wont bite. 😉
A snapshot of the hall from the other end. Note the walls here are adorned with one of the museums permant collections-a series of highly detailed color temple paintings depicting Buddhist deities and mandalas by a Tibetan monk Shashi Doj Tulachand (if you can pronouce this name you are a genius).
A couple of close up of the temple paintings by Shashi Doj Toulachand. It would take all painstaking day to read every one of its details .
A Buddhist deity, dont know the name but you sure wouldnt want to cross him; I mean just look at those eyes…
There are several rooms along this hallway reserved for special limited time exhibits, such as this upcoming show of real ancient Egyptian Mummies, which I sm highly looking forward to (oh I didnt tell you I was an Egyptology fanatic back in grade school…Ill have to tell u about it another time).
At the end of this hall to the left is another hallway leading to more in house collections primarily of early Central American artifacts and California arts.
Walking down this hall you will see cases of these delicate ceramic artifacts used to be buried with the dead, a common funerary practices in the ancient times. It can be oddly deformed idol figures…
…decorative vases and jars…
…and animals, such as this adorable Mexican Hairless canines.
Fro the hall you will enter straight into a room with some more artifacts and a mural
Now this is one of the special exhibits taking place in thr next room. This particular one features never before seen watercolor illustrations by renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera, based on the creation myth the Popol Vul.
This rather narrow doorway leads to the Diego Rivera exhibit, but unfortunately theres no photo allowed. Inside this room leads to yet another room which is a screening room related to the said exhibit. Then exit that room…
…and we are in yet another hallway, this time with its focus on early California Art. Walk down and enjoy some of these Impressionist-styled landscape paintings that attempt to capture the natural beauties of the Golden State.
Every culture have their own renditions of the iconic Madonna and Child paintings.
There is another room as you walk down the hall that feature artifacts of early native California Indians.
At the end of this hall is this old carriage used in the early days of Orange County. Turn to the right…
…and find yourself in this spacious room full of items from the Mission San Juan Capistrano archives. Here you will learn more about the history of California’s development and find out where the names of our favorite cities and streets of SoCal comes from…
This is a portrait of the Englishman who helped to build Mission San Juan Capistrano: John “Juan” Forster
Now when you exit that room and get back in the hallway you will find a stair leading up to a second floor with a balcony overlooking the room you were just in.
And this floor features even more California Art, though you’ll find there was more than just pretty landscapes….
The ceiling in this huge orange room features a mural much like that of the famous Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel mural, but here it depicts the early history of California. I only wished those lights weren’t such an eyesore…
After making my way back to the receptions desk I head on the over to another hallway. Now this hallway leads to a newly expanded wing of the museum completed in 2000 to make more room for other permanent collections that I will soon see.
Walk down this foyer and you will come across this room, one of the newest additions along with the expansion, that regularly holds small limited time exhibits, such as this one about…
…This pretty lady in gold, a mask of an Egyptian mummy. Now why only one mask here? Cause apparently scientists have made an extraordinary discovery inside this mask that will help identify the body more concretely. But really what is the point to learning the body’s identity, unless she’s somebody really famous…
And now here we are in the new expanded wing of the musuem.
This particular wing is dedicated to the Pacific Islander and Oceanic Art, as well as…
…the Ancient Chinese arts.
Now that’s a big doorbell.
Next to that huge drum you saw earlier is a rotunda that leads to an auditorium where regularly they hold educational seminars and screen movies related to the mission of the museum.
Now we shall enter the exotic world of Pacific Islander/Oceanic art-watch your heads. (j/k)
This permanent collection includes all the arts and cultural treasures of the many islands of the Pacific Coast. Believe it or not these are actual masks the natives wore for many of their ritualistic practices. I’d probably get squashed if I ever try one on…
Totem poles, often depicting spirits or ancestors, and used to display that tribe’s status.
I wouldn’t want to get stabbed by one of these…wait, what movie did I see that from?
These are real human skulls. It is common practice for the island natives to honor their dead by decorating their skulls.
Onward to the final exhibit-the arts of ancient China.
Elephant tusk. Look at those details, every figure has its own personalities…
A traditional scholar’s table
This large panoramic photo shows the famous Terra Cotta Warriors statues found in the tomb in China.
The Chinese have always been highly regarded for their beautiful delicate crafts in porcelain, bronze.
Peace be with thee.. 😉
The traditional garments worn by Chinese nobles. Note the intricate handiwork in those embroidery.
It seems the Chinese also enjoy game of chess, but their version is much different from the Europeans.
Now after all that walk around the halls and rooms full of ancient treasures treat yourself to a nice relaxing rest in this lush courtyard. Bask in the cool shades of the trees and listen to the sound of the water dribbling down the fountains. That is, assuming there are no kids running around.
For more information including upcoming events, directions, and other good stuff, go to: