USC Pacific Asia Museum, circa 1924.
USC Pacific Asia Museum, circa 1924.

PASADENA — Constructed in 1924 on the corner of Los Robles Avenue and Union Street, the historic building that is home to the USC Pacific Asia Museum (USC PAM) will undergo a seismic retrofitting to strengthen its foundation, as well as add approximately 700 square-feet of gallery space.

The museum will be closed to the public beginning June 27 and is expected to reopen in May 2017.

“As we take this time to reinforce the museum’s physical building, we will also use this opportunity to deepen our understanding of our collection, and strengthen our connections to our audiences via an exhibition on the USC campus and events throughout the community,” says director Christina Yu Yu.

Additionally, the curatorial department will conduct a permanent collection survey, which will allow the museum to conceive of new exhibitions and programs for the future that focus on the museum’s holdings.

USC PAM’s iconic venue was constructed in 1924 by pioneering collector and entrepreneur Grace Nicholson as her residence, galleries, and Treasure House/emporium. The remarkable building, a California State Historical Landmark and on the National Registry of Historical Places, follows the Imperial Palace courtyard style used in the construction of major buildings in Beijing.

Nicholson ensured every detail was correct by having the roof tiles, stone and marble carvings, and bronze and copper work imported directly from China, or faithfully executed by Pasadena-area craftsmen, following plans and photographs of authentic Chinese examples.

In 1943, Nicholson donated the building to the City of Pasadena for art and cultural purposes, with the stipulation that she would retain her private rooms until her death. She shared the building with the Pasadena Art Institute until she passed away in 1948.

In 1954, the Pasadena Art Institute changed its name to the Pasadena Art Museum and occupied the building until 1970, when it moved to its new location at Orange Grove Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard and became the Norton Simon Museum.

The Pacificulture Foundation moved into the building in 1971. In 1987, the foundation bought the structure and became the Pacific Asia Museum. In November 2013 the Museum partnered with the University of Southern California to become the USC Pacific Asia Museum.

During the impending closure, the museum will present a slate of programs throughout the community, as well as a satellite exhibition at USC. Information on these public presentations will appear on the museum’s website and social media platforms, with the hashtag #USCPAMOntheTown.

“China Trade: Global Market and Chinese Ceramics” will be on view from March 2 to Aug. 6, 2017 at Doheny Library, University Park Campus. This exhibition of more than 30 ceramics drawn from the USC PAM collection introduces how healthy domestic and international trade along sea and land routes inspired countless exchanges between patrons, artists, and artisans within China and neighboring countries. The exhibition features works from the Song dynasty (960-1129) through the late 19th century, and reveals how China’s artisans created works for foreign markets, as well as how other countries impacted the production of ceramics in China.

USC PAM is Southern California’s only museum exclusively devoted to the arts of Asia and the Pacific, and the only U.S. university museum dedicated to the subject. The museum’s mission is to further intercultural understanding through the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.