Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pacific Asia Museum

Los Angeles County, September 3, 1996

From the Pasadena Playhouse we hop in the black Olds Silhouette and motor about 4 blocks east to what was once Grace Nicholson’s Treasure House.

As a museum, they’ve been in operation over 40 years. The original focus of Grace Nicholson’s  emporium and residence that began in 1924 was a mix of First Nation and Asian art. Then, when the city operated the facility that became an anchor for the Pasadena art community, they showcased contemporary art. Since 1971, the Pacififculture association has held the reins with a focus entirely on Asian and Pacific Island art.

Grace Nicholson was born on December 31, 1877 in Philadelphia. After her parents and grandparents died and with a modest inheritance, she moved alone to California in 1901 and soon after set up a small curio shop on Raymond Avenue in Pasadena. In short order she became an authority and collector of Native American art and weaving, at a time when craftsmanship was without parallel. She hung out with the likes of John Muir, and on trips for new acquisitions, documented with photos the people and experience. Though she was especially fond of the Klamath River region, she traveled all of the southwest.

In 1909 Grace Nicholson was awarded a silver medal for her ethnological collection exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon- Pacific Exposition in Seattle. She was 29 years old. Someone should make a movie of this woman’s life.

Every piece of art in Nicholson’s home was auctioned off to raise money for scholarships to Pomona College.    

NO. 988 PACIFIC ASIA MUSEUM (GRACE NICHOLSON'S TREASURE HOUSE OF ORIENTAL AND WESTERN ART) - Grace Nicholson, a noted collector and authority on American Indian and Asian Art and artifacts, supervised the design of her combination gallery and museum which was completed in 1929. It has been called an outstanding example of 1920s revival architecture and is unique for its use of Chinese ornamentation.
Location: 46 North Los Robles Ave, Pasadena
Google 34.146694,-118.141437

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