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A small slice of the Orient in central Bath

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The Museum of East Asian Art is housed inside a restored Georgian building that couldn't look more English. However, this is the only example of western design you'll find, as the exhibits themselves come from significantly further afield. On the other side of the globe, the countries in East Asia have been making art in a completely different style to anywhere else. This museum is a celebration of that unique approach, and its development through history.
The collection was started by a solicitor called Brian McElney. After living in Hong Kong for several decades, he developed a keen interest in the art of the surrounding countries. Upon his return, McElney decided to share this hobby with the people of England. The Museum of East Asian Art was born. After opening in 1993, it slowly grew into the best collection of Chinese, Japanese and Korean art outside of London.
The museum owns around 2000 different pieces, from every historical era. The oldest items on display date from 7000 years ago, while the newest works were created by the current generation of Asian artists. There's a wide range of different crafts to see, including bamboo carvings and delicately painted ceramics. The collection of jade from China is particularly well-regarded, with over 200 examples.
Art exhibitions like this can often be seen as stale or boring, particularly for younger visitors. The Museum of East Asian Art shakes off this stereotype by running a series of fun workshops, where visitors of all ages can try to become artists themselves. The events cover a wide range of different crafts, from zen gardening to kite making.
Unusually, there are also regular "handling sessions", where visitors can pick up and touch some of the precious artefacts. In many museums this would be sacrilegious, so it's a fantastic opportunity. You can feel the weight and texture of the objects, and really get a sense of how much work must have gone into making them. Just try not to drop any!
Visitor Information
The Museum of East Asian Art is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Sunday 12noon to 5pm. Entry costs around £5 for adults, £3.50 child. Tel: 01225 464640

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