USC Pacific Asia Museum celebrates 50th anniversary

A new exhibit featuring contemporary Asian artists will be unveiled for the occasion.

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In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the USC Pacific Asia Museum is unveiling a new collection that features the work of contemporary Asian artists whose pieces reflect on the history of the museum.

The USC Pacific Asia Museum (PAM) in Pasadena was founded in 1971 by the Pacificulture Foundation and is the only university museum in the United States devoted to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The museum first partnered with USC in 2013.

Cristina Hernandez-Guerrero, a programs specialist at the museum, said the anniversary signals a “new positive chapter” for the museum.

“We have a bright future where we can continue good work in the community, and educate folks, and contribute to a positive narrative that will help people understand the complexity, and the vastness, and the beauty of Asia and the Pacific Islands,” Hernandez-Guerrero said.

The new anniversary exhibit, “Intervention: Fresh Perspectives after 50 Years” is currently on display and will remain in the museum through February 6. The collection finds “new ways” to view the PAM’s permanent installations through the lens of seven contemporary Asian artists, according to the USC Pacific Asia Museum’s website.

Each of the artists will bring something different to the table. Amir Fallah will showcase layered paintings that “question cultural systems,” whereas Akiko Jackson’s installation made with hair explores the disconnect people feel in the face of loss.

Alongside the new collection, the museum is hosting a series of events discussing the museum’s permanent collections. One took place Thursday, and featured Dr. Sonya Lee, an associate professor of Chinese art and visual cultures at USC, discussing the museum’s collection of Chinese art.

During the event, Lee spoke on how the museum’s collection embodies and promotes the importance of intercultural understanding.

“The Chinese collection at PAM  is a really invaluable resource for learning, reflection and inspiration, and now it’s part of the USC community,” Lee said. “The museum is really a laboratory for exploring new ideas and perspectives in order to realize its full potential. It’s really important for us to preserve this collection in its totality with the understanding of its history.”

Hernandez-Guerro said as a whole, USC PAM aims to be a “community museum” which serves the Asian and Asian American community in LA.

“We just are really striving to do more work within the community to better the museum and to better serve our constituents,” Hernandez-Gurrero said.

The museum is free to visit for all USC faculty, staff, and current students, and free to all visitors on Thursdays.