The museum is temporarily closed. Learn more.
The Arts of Southeast Asia: Distinctive Identities in a Cosmopolitan World
The geographic term Southeast Asia is relatively new. In the 1800s, French colonial powers called the region Indochina—essentially a land beyond India and before China. It was one of many attempts to classify a vast area that for thousands of years has operated as a center of maritime trade and a home to remarkably diverse civilizations and cultures.
This gallery offers a glimpse onto the emergence of distinctive aesthetic identities of the region, from Ban Chiang (3000 BCE–400 CE) ceramics and monumental Hindu and Buddhist sculpture of the Khmer Empire (802–1437 CE), to Indonesian textiles and works created up to the present day. Absorbing influences from neighbors near and far, the arts of Southeast Asia express a ceaseless innovation and a unique invention of form.
Ceremonial vessel in the form of a Water Buffalo, 1000–300 BCE, earthenware with impressed designs
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund, the Helen Jones Fund for Asian Art, and the Suzanne S. Roberts Fund for Asian Art 2000.204.1
The Southeast Asian Diaspora in Minnesota
Minnesota is home to the third-largest Southeast Asian American population in the United States. These communities include Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Khmu, Lao, Iu-Mien, Tai Dam, and Vietnamese Americans.
2020 marks an important milestone for many Southeast Asian Americans; for many communities, it is the 45th anniversary of their first migration to the United States. In 1975, after years of U.S. occupation during the Vietnam-American War and the Secret War in Laos, as well as the Cambodian campaign, countries in the region fell to communist regimes. Hundreds of thousands of people became the targets of political persecution, violence, and genocide. Forced to flee their homelands, they often made dangerous escapes across borders, eventually to resettle in the United States.
The communities of the Southeast Asian diaspora have become an integral part of the social, political, and economic fabric of the United States. In the Twin Cities, as throughout the country, Southeast Asian artists, writers, and performers continue to make a significant impact on our cultural landscape.
Explore Virtually: Gallery 213
Ceremonial vessel in the form of a water buffalo
Vietnamese bottle vase (Yu-hu chun), late 15th century
Ganesha, 10th-11th century
Naga-enthroned Buddha, 12th-13th century
This small bronze represents a transcendent Buddha, who is seated on the coils of a seven-headed snake. Under Jayavarman VII (1181-1218), tantric Buddhism became the state religion, as opposed to a form of Buddhism that stressed the historical events in the Buddha’s life.