A lot can change in 20 years, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art is flaunting what’s new.
“We’re actually coming up on our 20th anniversary this December, so I think it was the right time for us to consider renovations and construction,” says curator Jacqueline Chao. “It’s all leading up to celebrating, kicking off our 20th year.”
The museum, which was founded in 1998 with about 600 pieces from Trammell and Margaret Crow’s private collection, now houses 1,000 artifacts. It also has five fresh exhibits and a new gallery.
Near the main entrance, visitors can also get a glimpse of one of the museum’s newest acquisitions — a set of ancient armor — in the display Fierce Loyalty: A Samurai Complete.
Chao pointed out the high-level embroidery of the suit as well as a wooden chest that once held the family heirloom. Two nearby screens also display what Chao describes as a past compositional technique that offers sort of a bird’s-eye view of a 10th-century battle.
“It gives you a sense of warfare,” she says.
To the left of the entrance is Avatars and Incarnations: Buddhist and Hindu Art from the Collection, which runs through Feb. 24 and examines Buddhist deities as well as the concept of incarnation. Chao says many of the gods are manifest in different cultures but are the same god, Vishnu, which takes on about 11 incarnations, including Krishna and Varaha.
In one sculpture, Varaha, who sort of resembles a snooty-looking man-boar, has rescued the world from flood.
“You can tell he’s very proud,” Chao says. “I think he’s adorable. He’s clearly victorious over his enemies.”
Chao, 37, who has been with the museum since 2016, walked toward what’s referred to as “the heart of the museum,” which houses Immortal Landscapes: Jade from the Collection, an exhibit that runs through Jan. 6.
The Chinese jade artworks there include ancient perfumers that allow smoke from incense to escape through holes as well as disc-shaped relics with chrysanthemum designs.
Chao talked about how in antiquity jade was worn down by artists rather than carved, a lengthy and tedious process for artisans working with the revered stone.
The Art of Lacquer exhibit, which runs through Jan. 6, includes an enormous, hand-carved wood panel near glass windows, which allows architecture from Dallas’ skyline to complement the visuals. Storytelling scenes concerning Confucius and an elegant picnic box are also among the items on display.
“Imagine taking this with you and having a picnic at the park,” Chao says of the delicate picnic box containing a canteen and individual trays.
The Crow at Twenty, which will run through Aug. 11, pairs pieces from the museum with prominent Dallas residents and artists as well as museum volunteers, employees and others.
In Nuvole, which means clouds, art seems to float above ancient architecture from the museum’s permanent collection. It is the work of Jacob Hashimoto, an American artist with Japanese heritage.
“The human element is integral in Nuvole (2016-2018) on both a practical and cerebral level,” Hashimoto says in a press release. “The piece changes with me.”
Chao says she was excited to work with the artist in Jacob Hashimoto: Clouds and Chaos.
“Each of these kites are handmade with bamboo, paper and string,” she says.
The museum’s new gallery displays colorful, kaleidoscope-like images that the release says represent a selection of Hashimoto’s “latest woodblock and intaglio works.”
Chao describes the images as crashing together in beautiful symphony, floating, touching in a non-aggressive way.
“On this wall are 192 individual framed prints,” she says. “We are the U.S. premiere for his woodblock prints.”
The museum’s shop has also moved inside the main building to make way for a studio that includes an Asian-themed play area for kids.
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“It’s just a wonderful space,” Chao says of the Pearl Art Studio located across the street at Belo Mansion. “It’s great for all ages.”
The Crows, who were wealthy real estate developers, had collected artifacts during their trips to Asia, says Chao, adding that the opportunity to work with their collection not only brought her to Dallas but has allowed her to focus, specifically, on the arts of Asia in one museum.
“Asia is so vast,” she says. “Even one building is not enough.”
Admission to the Crow Museum of Asian Art, 2010 Flora St., is free.