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Bowers Museum

The Bowers Museum is a beautiful art and cultural space in Santa Ana, California, that boasts an impressive collection of pieces, with a little something for everyone. Exhibitions at Bowers are truly global, and you can see an appreciation of art and history from all over the world in their collections, both past, and present.

Even the little ones can have a great time learning at Kidseum, an extension of Bowers that focuses on fun ways to engage children. The Bowers Museum has a particular strength in representing all of the Americas, Asia, and Oceania, but the exhibits range globally in terms of origin and focus on everything from fine art, to architecture, to everyday life.

The Museum was originally made possible by Ada and Charles Bowers, who donated the land and initial funding to open the city-run museum in 1936. Back then, its focus was on the history of Orange County and Southern California. After being open for several decades, the museum underwent a considerable renovation in the 1980s, finally opening again in the early 90s. This newly renovated museum now had more global focus and a mission to highlight how the many Pacific Rim cultures influenced each other and helped build the diversity seen today in Southern California. Since then, the museum has flourished as a center of learning and holds exhibitions from all over the world.

It is hard not to appreciate the breadth of culture and variety of programs held at Bowers Museum. It is the largest museum in Orange County, and the museum’s permanent collection has over 90,000 pieces. You can currently see 12 exhibitions that range from an exploration of the Walt Disney Archives to a beautiful display of gold and jade masterworks by two of Taiwan’s most distinguished artists. A permanent feature of the museum is its exhibit, California Legacies: Missions and Rancheros(1768-1848). Here you can see California’s history under Mexican rule and how it shaped everything we see today, from art to architecture and beyond. Past features have seen an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s photographs, contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art, and even Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt!

Let’s not forget about Kidseum! Just two blocks away from the main campus, you will find a fantastic space ready to capture the imagination of the younger generation. A recently held exhibit focused on the game of chess. The program featured engaging activities for young children just learning about the game and a more advanced strategy lesson for kids already familiar and hungry for more. Events included everything from medieval-themed playgrounds to a human game of chess. Exhibits like these help create an environment that is fun and educational.

There is something for everyone at Bowers Museum, and the work never stops! There are always upcoming talks, performances and events, and even a book club that suggests titles related to current exhibitions. The Museum staff work hard to keep the space an important place of learning and cultural appreciation so that we may always keep our minds and hearts open to all of the beauty in our history and the world around us.

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