Welcome | Mission & Vision | History





Christina Yu YuFor nearly a century, our unique building has served the local community as a wonder of art and culture, first as the treasured home of Grace Nicholson, then as the site of the Pasadena Art Museum, and now as our own USC Pacific Asia Museum. Through the years, Southern California has undergone dramatic social and economic development and we have participated in the intercultural dialogue among the changing demographic population in the region.

The time has come to strengthen our museum’s structure and foundation, and to upgrade it for future visitors. With support from USC, I have worked closely for nearly two years with architects, engineers, technology specialists, and consultants. We developed an ambitious plan to preserve our beloved building (seismic retrofitting, art storage upgrade, and security upgrade) and at the same time to bring it to the standards of a 21st Century museum.

During this temporary closure, we are continuing to offer a robust public program in Pasadena and beyond. We are presenting activities such as Conversations@PAM, Performances@PAM, and Authors on Asia. If you miss PAM’s art collection, please come to the USC Doheny Memorial Library, where we will present the exhibition China Trade: The Export of Chinese Ceramics in the Global Market in early 2017.

The temporary closure will strengthen our foundation and provide a safe and appropriate environment for future exhibitions and programs. We will update you on our activities and construction progress through our newsletter, website, and on social media. Your continuous support and participation during this special time will be the best acknowledgement of our efforts to engage the community through art and culture.

Kind regards,

Christina Yu Yu, PhD
USC Pacific Asia Museum Director

Mission & Vision


USC PAM’s mission is to further intercultural understanding through the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.


A vibrant destination of Asian and Pacific Islands arts and culture that ignites intellectual curiosities and creative collaborations.

USC PAM is a LEADer in Asian arts & cultures:

  • Learning: we foster appreciation of Asian and Pacific Islands arts and culture.
  • Experience: we create engaging and stimulating experiences in a friendly and intellectual environment.
  • Authenticity: we offer opportunities to encounter authentic artistic and cultural experiences.
  • Diversity: we promote artistic, cultural, religious, racial, social, and economic diversity.


Established in 1971, the museum is one of few U.S. institutions dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands, serving the city of Los Angeles and the Greater Southern California region. The museum’s mission is to further intercultural understanding through the arts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

The museum’s historic building has served as a center for art, culture and learning in Pasadena since its construction in 1924 by pioneering collector and entrepreneur Grace Nicholson (1877-1948) as her residence, galleries, and Treasure House/emporium. Ms. Nicholson’s championing of Asian art early in the century set the tone for much of the Pasadena community’s arts-related activities during the ensuing decades. The building also served as the site of the Pasadena Art Museum, which was renowned for its groundbreaking exhibitions of contemporary art. Pacific Asia Museum combined the spirits of both its predecessors in its focus on the classic and contemporary arts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. In 2013, University of Southern California partnered with the museum to form USC Pacific Asia Museum. The affiliation broadened the community that benefits from the museum’s role as a vital resource for education and cultural heritage, and expanded the audience interested in a dialogue about art, history and culture.

Support from the museum’s constituent communities has enabled the collection to grow to more than 15,000 objects, spanning more than four thousand years and the region extending from Persia to the Pacific Islands. The museum fulfills its mission by organizing and presenting exhibitions, performances, lectures, classes, workshops, and festivals, all drawing on the arts and cultures of Asia and the Pacific Islands. These programs provide quality arts programming and education to children and families, ensuring greater access to the arts for area residents and nurturing new audiences.

In its brief history, the museum has organized and presented a number of groundbreaking exhibitions, including the first North American exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art after the Revolution and the first exhibition of Aboriginal art in the United States. Exhibitions originated by the museum have traveled across the country and to Japan. The museum is also committed to scholarship and has produced more than 50 exhibition catalogues.