I have never liked the location and have always believed that the museum - and the collection - would be better served by a location in Golden Gate Park. A lot of the comments to the original article at SF Gate do mention how unpleasant it is to run the gauntlet of the drunk, disorderly and demented denizens of the Civic Center. It's also disappointing to take the escalators up to the 2nd and 3rd floors and be treated to a bird's eye view of the Tenderloin - that is, when you are not looking down at the gravel roof of the rest of the museum. The Ganesh at the top of the escalator is delightful but the city scape behind him is one of the dirtiest and most crime ridden parts of the city.
I also think that the rooms for the permanent exhibits are too small, too dark and too crowded. It's hard to see even a fraction of the art but I suspect that's also a political decision as well as one necessitated by the historical nature of the building. They could not tear it down and start over so the Beaux Arts columns, the grand central staircase, even the painted and decorated ceilings had to be kept. Another one of the reasons given for moving the museum was to gain more space for the collections and by gum, those collections will be on display. All of them. All of the time.
But as I went to exhibit after exhibit, got to know some of the staff, I began to respect what they were trying to do. I have never had any problems appreciating the beauty of Asian art and culture. Although I feel that it was better displayed in the old location, with the windows overlooking the park, I always find a new treasure to look at and covet. Their publications are marvels of book design and elegant writing. The cafe serves delicious food and their programs are an enjoyable mix of outreach to the younger crowd with plenty of more intellectual lectures for us "older folk." I even like the redo of the balcony where the Piazzoni murals used to be!
I will be following the story as best I can as I think the Asian is a beautiful, world-class museum with a marvelous staff, great programs and beautiful art. Ganesh deserves better; we deserve better and most of all, the Asian deserves a generous deal from its donor base (any Asian billionaires out there?). Somebody also needs to whip down the pit bulls of the banking industry. Haven't they gotten enough? For us to lose this jewel would be crushing.
San Francisco's Asian Art Museum is in dire financial straits and could be forced into bankruptcy if it can't work out a new deal with its lender by Friday, according to knowledgeable sources.