Voted as the best museum in Orange County for 16 consecutive years by readers of the Orange County Register, the Bowers Museum is also one of the largest museums and cultural centers in the state of California. Located at 2002 North Main Street in Santa Ana, California, in recent years, it has expanded from a modest 7,000 square foot facility to a facility encompassing more than 93,000 square feet.
Over the past 15 years, the Bowers Museum has produced over 50 highly acclaimed exhibitions, many of which have traveled nationally and internationally. For 2014, there is an eclectic mix of exhibitions that are sure to attract the interest of a diverse cross-section of the population.
Gods & Gifts: Vatican Ethnological Collection
Currently on exhibit and running through February 9, 2014, Gods & Gifts: Vatican Ethnological Collection will give visitors the rare opportunity to see some of the most treasured and historically significant pieces of art and other objects that are a part of the vast collection of the Vatican. The exhibition features 65 sets of objects that have been specially selected for their cultural relevance across all of the world’s populated continents. It is the largest single selection of objects ever to leave Vatican City.
A Quest for Beauty: The Art of Van Cleef & Arpels
Currently on exhibit and running through February 15, 2014, A Quest for Beauty: The Art of Van Cleef & Arpels spans 100 years of the history of one of the world’s greatest designers of jewelry, watches and precious accessories. Get a close up look at some of the most exquisite pieces of jewelry, some of which were once worn by glamorous celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. None of the pieces in this special collection are for sale, but you can still use your imagination and picture yourself wearing a million dollar diamond necklace.
Revolution to Romanticism: Freedom of Expression in 19th Century European Painting
Currently on exhibit and running through March 23, 2014, Revolution to Romanticism: Freedom of Expression in 19th Century European Painting is a salute to the great artists who inspired the art movement known as Romanticism. Prior to the American and French Revolutions, the people who bought art were the upper class, nobility and high-ranking government officials. Artists were constrained in the style and subject matter of their paintings. After the Revolutions, a new culture emerged and artists began expressing greater creativity and more individuality. This exhibition no only shows the works of some of the best-known Romantic artists, but also illustrates the changing beliefs and attitudes of the world. As always, artists once again were shown to be ahead of the times.
Spirits & Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands
An ongoing exhibit with no scheduled closing date, Spirits & Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands focuses on the art, culture and lifestyle of the inhabitants of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, with an emphasis on New Guinea – the land of the headhunter.
Beethoven: The Late Great
Scheduled to open on February 8, 2014 and run through May 18, 2014, Beethoven: The Late Great will feature some of the personal letters and other rare artifacts associated with the famous composer. Included among other things in the Exhibition will be original scores and hand written manuscripts, two locks of Beethoven’s hair and a household account leaf recorded by the composer’s housekeeper.
Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt
Scheduled to open on March 22, 2014 and run through June 15, 2014, Soulful Creatures: Ancient Mummies in Ancient Egypt gives you an in depth look into the Ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying animals. You will see examples of the mummification of birds, cats, dogs and other animals that had religious and cultural significance in ancient Egyptian society.
The Lure of Chinatown: Painting California’s Chinese Communities
Scheduled to open on April 12, 2014 and run through August 31, 2014, The Lure of Chinatown: Painting California’s Chinese Communities examines the influence and role that artists have played in changing the perception of the people who live in California’s Chinese neighborhoods. Paintings from the 19th and 20th century show how attitudes toward Chinatowns in cities like San Francisco and LA have changed over the years.
Chuck Jones: Drawn from the Far Side
Scheduled to open on April 26, 2014 and run through August 3, 2014, Chuck Jones: Drawn from the Far Side is considered to be one of the creative geniuses of animation. A director during the golden age of animation, Jones is best known for his short animated cartoons which include Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, the Road Runner and Porky Pig. The exhibit includes a selection of 50 “Doodles” which are the representative of the artist’s far side.
If you are planning a visit to Orange County, take the kids to Disneyland, play golf and spend some time at the beach. However, don’t forget to also make time for a trip to the Bowers Museum. While you probably won’t see Mickey Mouse, you will have a great time exploring the wonderful exhibitions.
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