Bath’s Museum of East Asian Art features exhibits from throughout East Asia including bamboo carvings and one of Britain’s largest collections of Chinese jade. It is the only museum in the UK to focus solely on art from East and Southeast Asia.
The museum was founded by Brian McElney, a solicitor who amassed a large collection of Chinese art over a 35-year-career working in Hong Kong. The museum was established in 1993 with McElney’s collection forming the basis of the museum’s initial permanent collection, however, this has since been expanded upon.
In April 2018 the museum was impacted by a major burglary where 48 priceless artefacts were stolen, including several significant jade and gold objects.
What to see at the Museum of East Asian Art
The museum has a collection of around 2,000 objects that date from 5,000 BC to the present day. The majority of the museum’s collection comprises Chinese artefacts; however, the museum also features objects from throughout East and Southeast Asia including items from Japan and Korea.
In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions.
Visiting the Museum of East Asian Art
The Museum of East Asian Art is housed in a restored Georgian-era townhouse on Bennett Street just off the Circus on the northern fringe of Bath’s city centre. It is less than a one-minute walk to either The Circus or the Fashion Museum, a two-minute walk to the Museum of Bath at Work and the Royal Crescent and the Jane Austen Centre are a four-minute walk away.
The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday and admission costs £5, although entry is free of charge if you have a National Art Pass.
If you enjoyed this museum, you may also want to visit the Durham University Oriental Museum in the north of England, which also has an excellent collection of Asian art.