A Traveller’s Guide: Where to find ceramic museums and collections

This is a page we hope to grow over time, dedicated to helping ceramic-loving travellers find ceramic museums and collections wherever they may find themselves. The listings are all personal contributions by our members and friends. Some have been published previously; others were written exclusively for this page, hence the varying formats and ‘voices’.

If you’d like to contribute a short article about a relevant public ceramic collection or museum you are familiar with, please let us know (use the CONTACT link below).



The Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum

The Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum’s main collection features the salvaged items from the Brunei shipwreck, an accidental find by Elf Petroleum (Total) when carrying out a geophysical survey off the coast of Brunei in May 1997. The ship most likely sank ~1500 CE. Ninety percent of the 13,261 recovered artefacts were ceramics—predominantly export wares from China, as well as ceramics from Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. The remaining cargo consisted of various metals, beads, glass, etc. Notable ceramics included two ‘antique’ Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) pieces (a small B&W jar and a gourd-shaped ewer), and some Chinese firearms. For a member’s report on a recent visit,  read here. There is no official website.




Dunhuang Museums

Dunhuang has two excellent museums that put the Mogao Grotto caves and the town of Dunhuang into context. Don’t let the spartan exterior of the Dunhuang Museum at 1390 North MingShaShan Road in the centre of town put you off, it has many cases of the various artefacts of daily life attesting to the town’s prosperity in history.
The other ‘must’ museum to visit in Dunhuang is the Mogao Caves Digital Exhibition Centre. The Dunhuang Academy, keeper of the World Heritage site, together with the Getty Conservation Institute has built a first class, not-to-be missed exhibition hall that should be visited ideally before seeing the caves in order to understand how they were built, and how they appeared at the time of their discovery. The educational showcases and displays are superb and most have English-language signage.

An article published in 2014 when the two museums were both newly opened, which explains the displays in more detail, can be seen here.


The Gansu Provincial Museum

What an impressive museum, and a ‘must’ for any visitor to Lanzhou, overflowing with the region’s historical artefacts: textiles, bronze, ceramics, wood carvings, both religious and secular from the late Neolithic through the Tang and beyond. Home of one of China’s symbols: the flying horse. Plan a good two hours’ minimum for a visit.

official website: http://www.gansumuseum.com/english/index.html


Itinerary of historic kiln sites and museums in Fujian and Jingdezhen

A new museum (the Shimao Maritime Silk Road Museum) is a collaboration between the Shimao Group and Beijing’s Palace Museum and focuses on the history and culture of the Maritime Silk Road. It is located Quanzhou and we await further information.

Additional museums are: the Jinjiang Museum (Qingyang), the Quanzhou Maritime Museum, Dehua, Yueji kilns and contemporary art centre, the Jiangxi Provincial Museum, Imperial Ceramics Museum (Jingdezhen) and the Hutian Kiln Museum


The Erlitou Museum

Granted the Erlitou Museum is dedicated to the bronze vessels dating to 1600 BCE found at this site (an ancient fortified capital city), but the museum is nevertheless worth a visit because if it hadn’t been for the superiority of China’s potters, China would not have had the knowledge and know-how of working with the clay that provided the moulds for these beautiful artefacts.

More on the museum and its contents here.


The Shaanxi Archaeology Museum (to be opened in early 2022)

China’s first archaeological museum focuses on the research results of archaeological excavations in Shaanxi Province in a new 5,800 square meters of indoor exhibition space and an extensive 10,000 square meters of outdoor exhibition space. The collection includes the ceramic figurines from the Mausoleum of Emperor Wen of Han (Western Zhou Dynasty, 1046-771 BCE) in addition to specimen rooms for pottery figurines, ceramics and other excavated materials, many of which were excavated using brand-new technologies that enabled the mural tombs of the Yuan Dynasty and the chariot and horse pits of the W. Zhou to be excavated as complete ‘packages’.

official website: tba


Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai museum’s ancient Chinese Ceramics Gallery covers 1300 square meters and is one of the most extensive collections of the ceramic art of ancient China with examples from the Neolithic to the late Qing Dynasty displayed in seven different galleries on level 2. Facilities include an excellent gift shop (books, art supplies, reproduction ceramics), a tea shop and several snack areas. Do not miss its extensive bronze collection (level 1)–the result of China’s early potters whose skill and knowledge made the casting of bronzes possible.

official website: https://www.shanghaimuseum.net/mu/frontend/pg/en/

SHANGHAI (Pudong), China

The Aurora Museum

The Aurora Museum was founded by Aurora Group chairman Chen Yong-Tai to help launch his cultural philanthropic program. Located on the banks of the Huangpu River, the six-storey building was designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. The collection focuses on Chinese antiquities, and includes thousands of pieces of jade objects, Buddhist images,and ceramics, which includes an impressive collection of Yuan Dynasty B&W ceramics and shards. To see some photographs of artefacts in this museum see Wikimedia Commons and search under: Yuan Porcelain. No. 99 Fucheng Rd. Pudong New Area, Shanghai (+86 (0) 21 5840 8899). Open Tues-Sun 10 am-5pm. Admission charge.

website: https://www.shanghaimuseum.net/mu/frontend/pg/en/



The Linan History Museum, Linan District, west of Hangzhou

This ultra-modern museum opened in 2019 with an outstanding collection of ceramics, with new sections of the museum opening in successive years. The museum’s architecture, exhibitions and artefacts are not to be missed. The ceramics collection ranges from early chicken-headed ewers to artefacts from the Sui and Tang to Song to the famed mise (‘secret porcelain’) of the Tang to Northern Song Dynasties. The site alone, designed by two of China’s leading architects Wang Shu and Lin Wenyu, is worth a visit.

Read more about the museum here: https://www.architectural-review.com/uncategorised/present-histories-in-the-making-wuyue-cultural-park-and-linan-history-museum-in-hangzhou-china-by-amateur-architecture-studio


Exterior view of the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe
A B&W Meissen plate

HAMBURG, Germany

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Steintorplatz, 20099 Hamburg)

Unlike museums that have their origins in stately curiosity cabinets (Kunstkammern) this museum, which finds its origins in the late 19C, is a house dedicated to free art, arts and crafts. Here, you can find anything from antiquity to modernity, from Hamburg to Japan, from instruments to porcelain. Thus, it is one of the most important museums.

Until August 2023 it shows a special exhibition called ‘Made in China’. The slogan does not refer to today’s export goods, but to the export goods, China was famous for before, porcelain. 180 pieces showcase the development of stoneware to the much-loved blue and white Ming porcelain.

This plate from the Yongle era, (1402-1424), might be familiar to visitors. It shows a floral blue and white decoration painted underglaze cobalt blue. The fantasy flowers, called Baoxianghua, were developed from the popular lotus (purity) flower and combine elements of other flowers such as peonies (beauty and richness), chrysanthemum (longevity and pomegranates (abundant offspring).

A special highlight are the pieces for the imperial court and the experimental pieces created by the suggestion of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), combining earlier inventions but also trying to replicate the mysterious two-tone craquelure, known as Ge stoneware.

official website: https://www.mkg-hamburg.de/en/visit

Exterior view of the Schloss Lusstheim
A Boettger earthenware teapot
A porcelain plate showing a pair of red phoenixes and dragons

MUNICH, Germany

Schloss Lustheim, Lustheim 1, 85764 Oberschleißheim (close to Munich)

(part of the lager Schleißheim complex)

Max Emanuel of Bavaria, who ruled from 1680-1726, commissioned his favourite architect Henrico Zucalli to build a hunting lodge at the other end of his summer residence Schleissheim, on the occasion of his marriage to the Austrian emperor’s daughter Maria Antonia in 1685.

Today it houses the extensive collection of industrialist Professor Ernst Schneider (1900-1977), which is as important and comprehensive as the porcelain collection of the Zwinger in Dresden.

Over 2.000 pieces are exhibited strictly as Prof Schneider has stipulated in his will and shows the early beginning of Meissner manufactory (established in 1710) with Boettger earthenware to the advanced pieces of the later periods.

The plate to the left decorated with the ‘red dragons’ was commissioned by Rodolphe Lemaire for export to France. He asked Meissen to put the blue swords on top and not under the glazing. This enabled him to remove the little blue swords and sell the porcelain as ‘originals’.

Most of the confiscated pieces went back to Dresden and were earmarked to decorate the Japanese Palais in Dresden.

Another highlight is a unique set of seven vases, called ‘August Rex Vases’ decorated with ‘Indianischen’ flowers (flower and animal motives, which were considered from Asia) and meant to stand against a wall. Hence, the reverse side is less decorated.

August the Strong commissioned 400 life-sized animals for this Japanese Palais, and one can find four in Lustheim, including the parrot you see to the left.

For more information on the history of Schloss Lustheim, click here.

MEISSEN, Germany

It was in Meissen that the secret of Chinese porcelain was uncovered in Albrechtsburg Castle, a Late Gothic and early Renaissance castle erected from 1471 till about 1495 (the castle on the hill in the photo). The story of this discovery is told in the castle museum’s collection that includes a gallery of showcases of some of the Chinese porcelain and Dehua that Böttger used as his models plus some of his earliest results. The official website can be found here.

A short walk away, is the Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen factory, which opened in 1710 and has a selection of Meissen’s historic ceramics on display (and a very busy gift shop open to the public). The official website of the Meissen factory can be found here. A review by a SEACS member of the porcelain museums of Meissen may be read here.


JAKARTA, Indonesia

The National Museum

The National Museum formerly displayed the collection of the Dutch collector E. W. van Orsoy de Flines, who donated more than 6,000 ceramics to the museum, many of which were destroyed when on loan abroad, but we understand that the remaining pieces of the collection are also no longer on display. SEACS awaits further information on this important collection that included both Chinese export wares (including a number of fine Ming ceramics including a large and rare early Ming charger decorated in underglaze blue, found in Jambi, Sumatra). Lenzi (Museums of Southeast Asia, p. 45) also reported in 2004 “a second large plate found in Sumatra–a 17th century Ming Swatow ware painted in overglaze wu t’sai enamels–clearly also commissioned as it is decorated throughout with Arabic script. A green-glazed water vessel, dating to the middle of the Tang dynasty (circa 9th century) is thought to have been brought to the archipelago by Chinese Buddhist priests…between the 7th and 10th century.”


Site photo of the National Museum of Ireland
The Gaignieres-Fonthill Vase

DUBLIN, Ireland

The National Museum-Military & Decorative Arts, Collins Baracks

The jewel in this collection, located in a former military barracks, is the world-famous Gaignières-Fonthill Vase (pictured left), believed to be the earliest piece of Chinese ceramics (1300-40) to have arrived in the west. It was acquired by the museum in the Hamilton Palace auction of 1882 and its history is a long and fascinating one. Additionally, the museum has an eclectic assemblage of artefacts from Asia ranging from Tibetan tangkas to Chinese ceramics (primarily Qing but with some Han & Tang pieces) many acquired through the generous donations of the Irish-American collector Albert Bender. The Collins Barracks museum is located on Benburg Street, Dublin.

A YouTube talk given by the Deputy Director of the museum on the Fonthill Vase and the museum’s Asian collections can be seen here.

official website: https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Decorative-Arts-History


ARITA, Kyushu

The Kyushu Ceramic Museum 

official website

A superb dedicated museum to the history of Arita ceramics with rotating special exhibitions. A review by a SEACS member may be read here.

ECHIZEN, Fukui Prefecture

Fukui Prefectural Museum of Ceramics

The Echizen Pottery Village in Fukui Prefecture bears many similarities to Shigaraki’s Cultural Park. Set in extensive landscaped grounds containing numerous ceramic sculptures, you’ll find the main Ceramic Art Center building and Co-operative Assocation gallery, both selling Echizen pottery, a good soba restaurant, working kilns and two museums. The Fukui Prefectural Museum has large galleries on both the ground and first floors giving a comprehensive overview of Echizen ceramics. There’s an excellent museum shop and a beautiful garden to contemplate through the window as you make your purchases. Turn left when you leave and you’ll come to the Old Kiln Museum, where some superb examples of old Echizen ware can be seen.

The Pottery Village is, unfortunately, in quite a remote area. The nearest station is Takefu on the main Osaka-Kyoto-Kanazawa line, from where you can catch an infrequent bus then walk the last ten minutes up to the park.

official website: https://www.tougeikan.jp/

for more information: https://www.togeimura.com/tougeimura/index_e.html

HAGI, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Honshu

Hagi Uragami Museum

The town of Hagi, located at the south-western tip of Honshu, is famous as one of Japan’s major pottery centres. No surprise, then, that it has several ceramics museums worth a visit, chief among which is the excellent Hagi Uragami Museum. Alongside a permanent display of fine ukiyo-e prints, it frequently hosts exhibitions featuring its extensive collection of Chinese, Korean and Japanese pottery, and in 2010 a special annexe devoted exclusively to ceramics – in particular Hagi ware – was opened. The museum is on all the maps and is more or less in the centre of town, just a short walk from the much-visited area of old samurai streets and residences.

official website; https://www.hum.pref.yamaguchi.lg.jp/global/index.html

KYOTO, Kyoto Prefecture

Furuta Oribe Museum

Opened in 2014 in a tiny basement gallery along Kitayama street up in Kyoto’s north, the Furuta Oribe museum is named after the famous tea master who succeeded Sen no Rikyū. It houses a small private collection of tea items, but they are of excellent quality. Exhibitions change periodically and almost always feature some important ceramics. The museum faces the north side of Kyoto’s Botanical Gardens and the stylish street it’s on offers one or two good patisseries as well as the trendy ‘In the Green’ restaurant, so the museum can be included as part of an enjoyable day out. Take the Karasuma Line subway north to Kitayama station, and the museum is a 5-8 minute walk west.


The Raku Museum

The Raku Museum is ‘ground zero’ for tea ceramics and a must-see when in Kyoto. It’s located in the same complex of traditional buildings as the home and workshop of the Raku family, which has an illustrious history stretching back 16 generations to Chojiro, the potter who made tea bowls for Sen no Rikyū. A constantly changing series of themed exhibitions throughout the year draws on the museum’s superb collection of works by the current and past heads of the family, all beautifully displayed and described in exemplary English on both captions and portable tablet devices. The museum is to the northwest of the city in a fairly residential neigbourhood, but GPS and a No.12 bus will get you there.

official website: https://www.raku-yaki.or.jp/e/

The Raku Museum

The Raku Museum is ‘ground zero’ for tea ceramics and a must-see when in Kyoto. It’s located in the same complex of traditional buildings as the home and workshop of the Raku family, which has an illustrious history stretching back 16 generations to Chojiro, the potter who made tea bowls for Sen no Rikyū. A constantly changing series of themed exhibitions throughout the year draws on the museum’s superb collection of works by the current and past heads of the family, all beautifully displayed and described in exemplary English on both captions and portable tablet devices. The museum is to the northwest of the city in a fairly residential neigbourhood, but GPS and a No.12 bus will get you there.

official website: https://www.raku-yaki.or.jp/e/

Sagawa Art Museum

Not strictly in Kyoto, but a short train and bus ride to the east, the spectacular Sagawa Museum is worth every effort made to get there. The vast modern building appears to float in the expansive water feature that surrounds it, but the main reason for a ceramics lover to visit lies, literally, beneath the surface. Housed underground are galleries designed by Raku Kichizaemon XV specifically to showcase his work and that of others he sometimes collaborates with, and the architecture and sheer sense of style on display here is breathtaking. Tours are also given of the extraordinary modern tea rooms he designed as part of the project, but you need to book ahead for these. The museum has a very pleasant cafe/restaurant and is generally English-language friendly. It’s located at the southern tip of Lake Biwa and the closest station is Katata, about 15-20 minutes from Kyoto. You can take a bus from there, and the museum provides a bus timetable for your return journey.

official website: https://www.sagawa-artmuseum.or.jp/en/

SHIGARAKI AREA, Kōka District, Shiga Prefecture

Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shigaraki area

The home of Shigaraki ware is not all that easy to reach without a car, involving two changes of train from Kyoto, but the journey is well worth it for the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, a five minute taxi ride from the station. Built on a hillside and incorporating wide open spaces, the Cultural Park is divided into three levels. At the middle level is a large shop plus a well-run cafe and restaurant. From here you can walk across the park and up a long flight of stairs to the main exhibition hall which frequently hosts world-class ceramics shows and offers commanding views over the surrounding countryside. End your visit at the park’s lower level, where you can see the studios of potters in residence from around the world, as well a working climbing kiln. The aerial video on the web site’s home page (cameo left) gives a very good idea of how the whole park looks.

official website: https://www.sccp.jp/e/

Miho Museum, Shigaraki area

The famous Miho Museum is about 15-20 minutes’ drive north-west of Shigaraki, but those without a car usually take a train from Kyoto to Ishiyama station, then connect with the dedicated bus service. This I.M.Pei-designed museum is amazing in its own right, built half underground amidst remote and beautiful hills and accessed via a spectacular tunnel dug through a mountain. The collection of artworks is no less stunning and includes many wonderful ceramics, though if the latter are your only reason for a visit check first to see what exhibitions are on. Due to its remote location the Miho Museum is closed during the winter months, from around December to March.

official website: https://www.sccp.jp/e/


Located on the border of Shiga and Mie prefectures about 20 minutes south of Shigaraki town is Marubashira, the home of Iga ware. The village is small and features mostly pottery studios and their shops, but the rather unpromisingly named Iga Yaki Traditional Industry Center has a fairly wide display of local works, and the nearby Yamahon Gallery, which has a branch in Kyoto, also holds exhibitions and features a nice café.

See examples at: http://www.igayaki.or.jp/

and http://gallery-yamahon.com/

OSAKA, Kansai Region of Honshu

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics

official website

A review by a SEACS member of the Museum of Oriental Ceramics (Osaka) may be read here.

Yuki Museum

This small, private museum can be found a short way down a side street off Osaka’s major north-south thoroughfare, Mido-suji. It was opened in 1987 by Teiichi Yuki, who also founded the renowned Japanese restaurant Kitcho, and it displays his superb collection of tea ceremony items. Many priceless ceramics form part of this collection and are featured in the various themed exhibitions held throughout the year. The atmosphere is intimate and peaceful, allowing one to fully concentrate on the exhibits. The museum is roughly halfway between Yodoyabashi and Honmachi subway stations.

official website: http://www.yuki-museum.or.jp

TACHIKUI, Hyogo Prefecture

Hyogo Prefectural Ceramics Museum

The area that’s home to Tamba pottery lies deep in the countryside of Hyogo prefecture and centres around the unspoiled village of Tachikui. Unlikely as it may seem, this rural idyll is also home to the modern and excellent Hyogo Prefectural Ceramics Museum, which not only displays prime examples of Tamba ware but also holds regular ceramics exhibitions on a level equal to those in any major city. Next door to the museum further exhibits can be seen at the Tamba Traditional Craft Park, and a short walk across to Tachikui village itself offers the chance to drop in at numerous local studios and their shops as well as see the exceptional noborigama climbing kiln. If you don’t have a car, access is by train to Aino station, from where a scheduled bus service runs right to the museum entrance.

official website: https://www.mcart.jp/global/en/

SETO CITY, Nagoya, capital of Aichi ken (prefecture), central Honshu

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum displays the history of Japanese ceramics from prehistoric to modern times. Facilities include a restaurant, authentic Japanese teahouse where tea is served in tea bowls produced by ceramic artists, and a craft studio where visitors can experience ceramic production

234 Minami-Yamaguchi Town

Seto City, Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya




Seto-Gura Museum showcases the history of ceramics and its transition over a period of more than 1000 years Old coal-fired kilns workshops, and the Seto townscape have been recreated to bring Seto of the olden days back to life. Within walking distance of Owari Seto Station on the Meitetsu Railway’s Seto Line. Exit station, cross the bridge over the Seto river, make an immediate left and the complex is 5 minutes walk.

1-1 Kura-Sho Town, Aichi Prefecture

Seto City  [Note: there are many ceramic centres selling cetail ceramics in Seto City]



Seto Municipal Art Museum  (in Seto City Cultural Center)

Permanent and special exhibitions are held in the Culture Center’s facilities in both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Culture Hall. The Culture Hall and Furehai Hall display large ceramic works: Dancing Flames by Tokuro Kato, and Ceramic Fire Festival by Goro Kawamoto.

113-3 Nishi-Ibara Town, Seto City, Aichi Prefecture



Nezu Museum

The wonderful Nezu Museum in Aoyama is worth a visit for its gardens alone, which descend steeply into a natural wooded hollow with lakes and tea houses that feels a million miles away from the metropolis all around. The museum building was designed by the famous architect Kengo Kuma and is a joy to experience, from the imposing approach passageway through to the light-filled lobby and on to the exhibition galleries. The main two of these are found on the ground floor, with three smaller ones upstairs. The museum has one of the leading collections in Japan, including National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Ceramics form a major part and many, though not all, exhibitions focus on them. When they are not featured, visit the permanent gallery dedicated to tea utensils on the upper floor, where fine examples can always be seen. An excellent museum shop and a lovely café set in the garden complete the scene.

official website: https://www.nezu-muse.or.jp/en/index.html

Gotoh Museum

Opened in 1960, the Gotoh Museum houses a renowned collection of Japanese and other Asian art, some examples of which can be seen by clicking the ‘Collection’ tab on their web site. Viewing works in the flesh, though, requires some navigational skills as the museum lies in Tokyo’s south-western suburbs a couple of train rides away from Shibuya. When an exhibition focuses on ceramics it’s not to be missed as the quality of their collection is exceptional (the Gotoh is the home, for example, of the famed Yabure-bukoro, or ‘burst pouch’, water container, an Important Cultural Property). There are extensive grounds to the museum, which make for an attractive walk, as well as a museum shop featuring many of their own publications. There is no café or restaurant, however.

official website: https://www.gotoh-museum.or.jp/

Mitsui Memorial Museum

The Mitsui Memorial Museum in Nihonbashi has a world-class collection of Japanese artworks, the core of which is formed by tea ceremony utensils. Numerous ceramic masterpieces can be seen when one of their exhibitions focuses on the subject, and a visit to this central Tokyo museum is highly recommended. After viewing the exhibits you’ll arrive at their small but well-stocked shop, alongside which is a small cafe serving delicious light lunches. While actually located in the old Mitsui building, the museum is accessed via the lobby of the neighbouring and modern Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.

official website: http://www.mitsui-museum.jp/english/english.html

Japan Folkcrafts Museum

The Japan Folkcrafts Museum is also known as the Mingeikan, since its founder Yanagi Soetsu was one of the leading members of the Mingei movement. Yanagi’s old residence, in fact, stands opposite the museum itself. Housed in a lovely period building, the Folkcrafts Museum displays, as its name implies, the work of unheralded artisans whose work is nevertheless an integral part of the Japanese aesthetic. Many ceramic works are included in the collection and the one-stop train ride from Shibuya Station followed by a short walk is well worth it.

official website: https://mingeikan.or.jp/

There is also a Mingeikan museum in Osaka, although it’s located quite out of the way in the 1970 Expo Park to the north of the city. It’s another fine museum and contains a gallery devoted to some wonderful works by Hamada Shoji. For more on Hamada Shoji on our website, click here and here.

official website: https://www.mingeikan-osaka.or.jp/en/info/


MALAYSIA (Kuala Lumpur)

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

This is a gem of a museum with a very interesting ceramics collection that includes several examples of Chinese export ceramics including a Zhengde Period (1506-21) iron-red baluster jar decorated with Arabic inscriptions–interesting as this was the period when overglaze iron-red was introduced. Another example is a wucai ewer (also Ming, from the 16th century). The ceramics are all identified with both English and Bahasa signage.

official website



The Princessehof Ceramics Museum

The largest and most important collection of Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares in Europe is in the Princessehof, much of it acquired by the engineer Dirk Verbeek (1841-1926) in the 19th century from Sumatra. The museum’s name comes from one of two buildings in which it is housed: a small palace built in 1693 and later occupied by Marie Louise, dowager Princess of Orange.

official website: https://princessehof.nl/en



National Museum of the Philippines

This extensively rebuilt post-WWII museum has an excellent ethnological collection that ranges from a collection of earthenware burial jars displaying anthropomorphic figures to ceramics from the ‘Age of Trade Goods’ including some excellent land and marine archaeological finds. Most of the collections are from the port of Quanzhou since the 13th century, when there was increased maritime traffic among China, the Philippines, and the rest of Southeast Asia. The 2nd floor houses the ‘Treasures of the San Diego Gallery, which showcases the 35,000+ artefacts recovered from the December 14, 1600 shipwreck of the San Diego off the coast of Luzon after being sunk by the Dutch flagship Mauritius. The gallery includes some of the 800+ jars and 5,000+ B&W ceramics salvaged from the wreck.

official website: https://www. national museum.gov.ph

An excellent virtual tour of the museum including scenes from the San Diego Gallery can be found here

The Ayala Museum

This modern, private museum (located in Metro Manila) is run by the Ayala Foundation and contains various collections related to the history and culture of the Philippines in addition to a ceramic collection of ~500 pieces of Chinese and other ceramic export ware found in the Philippines from the collection of Roberto T. Villanueva. The museum also houses some ceramic study collections including books and publications on art and the history of ceramics (courtesy of John D. Forbes), archaeological, ethnographic, historical, fine arts, numismatics, and ecclesiastical exhibits. For a glimpse of its collection, click here. Open Wed-Sun 10am – 6pm. (And while visiting, do not miss its gold collection.)

official website: https://www.ayalamuseum.org

University of Santo Tomas Museum of Arts and Sciences

A small but interesting collection of ceramics, including pre-colonial export wares from China, Japan and Southeast Asia (Thailand and Vietnam) is housed on the upper floor of the museum, showcasing the well-developed trade routes in the region that included the Philippines. This is the oldest extant museum in the Philippines which reopened in March 2022 after a brief closure. It is open Mondays 10-4:30, Tues-Fridays 8:30-4:30, closed weekends.

official website: https://ustmuseum.ust.edu.ph



Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

The museum houses the collection of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955) and features one of the best private art collections in the world featuring artefacts from a vast geographic area and a chronological and aesthetic range from Antiquity to the early 20th century, which includes a good number of early ceramics in the Islamic East and China and Japan galleries. The museum is open 10 am – 6 pm, closed on Tuesdays and on major holidays. The museum features a Gulbenkian Museum app that provides free audio guides in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German.

Official website: https://gulbenkian.pt/museu/en/welcome/

The Medeiros e Almeida Museum

One of the Medeiros e Almeida Museum’s main collections is Chinese ceramics, with around 1500 pieces dating from the Han to the end of the Qing Dynasty and including mingqi, imperial commissions and pieces for the internal and European market, not to mention pieces of the so-called “first commissions”, a restricted group of Chinese porcelains decorated with a combination of Chinese and Portuguese motifs that are the earliest examples of pieces commissioned in China for the western market and bear witness to the early stage of Portuguese relations with the Ming Dynasty.

The Medeiros e Almeida Museum is situated in central Lisbon and exhibits the decorative arts collection gathered by António de Medeiros e Almeida (1895- 1986), a Portuguese businessman and benefactor. The collection comprises Portuguese and foreign pieces belonging to a variety of art forms – including ceramics, clocks and watches, furniture, painting, sculpture, textiles, jewellery and sacred art – dating from the 2nd century BC to the 20th century CE.

Official website: https://www.museumedeirosealmeida.pt/

The Museum of Sao Roque occupies the space of the old Professed House of the Society of Jesus in Lisbon, adjoining the Church of Sao Roque. The museum features religious art and has limited ceramics, but its examples of religious art, many of which were brought back to Portugal from Asia during the 1500s, is outstanding and the museum is well worth a visit while in Lisbon. The museum is open at varying times dependent on the season, but roughly 10 am to 6 pm Tues-Sun. There is an admission charge. Location is on the Largo Trindade Coehlo (1200-470, Lisbon).

There is no official website but you can find more information here: https://www.visitlisboa.com/en/places/sao-roque-museum

The Museu do Oriente has a vast collection of artefacts of early Asian exports to Portugal, primarily from the 16th century but also 17-18C ranging from textiles to furniture to ceramics. Its ceramic collection is well worth a visit with an extensive collection of the ‘tobacco leaf’ pattern as well as Portuguese faience, and the museum houses exquisite examples of the artefacts that made Lisbon one of the grandest cities in the world in the 16th century. The museum is open Tues-Sun 10 am – 6 pm with free admission on Fridays 6-8 pm.

Official website: https://www.foriente.pt/home.php


The National University of Singapore (NUS) Museum, located at 50 Kent Ridge Crescent (Singapore 119279) has an excellent gallery of Chinese ceramics chronicling their development both by history and kiln sites, as well as examples from Southeast Asia, including Peranakan. The museum is open daily Tues-Sat 10 am to 6 pm (closed Sundays, Mondays, and public holidays). There is convenient university parking directly next door to the museum, open to the public.

Official website: https://museum.nus.edu.sg/plan-your-visit/

The Asian Civilisations Museum features a dedicated 3rd floor Chinese ceramic gallery with a modest selection of representative Chinese ceramics on display (Han-Qing) highlighted by one of the most extensive collections of dehua (blanc-de-Chine) ceramics in Asia. In addition, a 1st floor Trade Gallery features a large number of trade ceramics from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and China. There is also a selection of Chinese made-for export wares including Swatow, bencharong, kraak and peranakan as well as armorial ware. The museum’s highlight is its dedicated Belitung Shipwreck Gallery dedicated to the findings of the ~826 CE Arab dhow found in Southeast Asian waters (Changsha, Yue, Xing/Ding and Gongxian ceramics). A side gallery showcases ceramics from archaeological finds in Singapore and its waters (Longquan, Shufu ++) including the recent finds of the Temasek Wreck (~1330?), which includes Yuan-period blue-and-white ceramics, and the Shah Muncher (1796).

Official website: nhb.gov.sg/acm


By Janek Szymanowski - Own work, CC BY-SA


The Johannesburg Municipal Art Gallery

Official website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannesburg_Art_Gallery

This is one of the largest collections in South Africa featuring a broad range of artefacts, primarily 17-19th century art, European paintings as well as some Swatow wares.



The Baur Foundation, Museum of Far Eastern Art

Official website: https://https://fondation-baur.ch/en

The Baur Foundation Collection was acquired by the Swiss collector Alfred Baur (1865-1951) over a period pf 45 years and includes an extensive collection that includes Chinese imperial ceramics (as well as Japanese prints, lacquer, netsuke, sword fittings, and Chinese jade and snuff bottles). The museum is housed in an elegant, late 19th-century townhouse at 8 Rue Munier-Romilly, and is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 2:00-6:00 pm. A two-volume set of books edited by John Ayers on the Chinese ceramics in the Baur Collection is still available from their bookstore and may be purchased online.


Hallwyl Museum Facade in Stockholm


The Hallwyl Museum

Countess Wilhelmina von Hallwyl was an avid, eclectic collector of ceramics. She donated the palatial house in which she once lived, together with its contents, as a museum to be enjoyed by the public with free entry on condition that no changes be made to the displays of her collections. Since 1920 it has preserved a time capsule of how the wealthy nobility of Stockholm once lived. Visitors interested in European and oriental ceramics will be equally enthralled with a comprehensiveness of her collection, including over 500 European and around the same number Chinese/Japanese artifacts. The Chinese exhibits start from the Bronze age while the European section begins from the 17th century and stars a priceless Meissen group of figures in white porcelain modelled by Kandler. There are two exquisite early 18th century Nymphenberg porcelain figures obscured from view by the placement in the front of the cabinet of a rather unattractive 20th century porcelain cat. The curator explained that no changes could be made because that is the way it was arranged at the time of Wilhelmina’s death and that is how it had to remain.


Vasa Museet logo

The jewel in the crown of Stockholm’s many historic attractions is undoubtably the Vasa Museum, located at Galärvarvsvägen 14. The warship has been restored and preserved in a spectacular exhibition, and the website offers excellent virtual tours. It is the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world and most of the ship, its sails, rigging, etc. have been preserved, but note that the museum has no ceramics as she sank after sailing roughly only 1,300 m (1,400 yd) into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628.


Mistake Dinner set

A ten-minute walk from the Hallwyl Museum is another museum offering free entry to anyone interested in oriental ceramics: The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. The star attraction features the discoveries of archaeologist Johan Anderssen of Bronze Age artefacts from China. The history of ceramics in China is well represented and includes pieces from the dinner service featured in Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum that is known as the “mistake plate” (see photo left, below). The exhibition also covers exhibits from Japan, Korea and India.




The Jim Thompson House

official website

Former home of the legendary Jim Thompson (who disappeared while a houseguest at the Cameron Highlands holiday home of the first president of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, Helen Ling), showcasing his various collections of traditional Thai crafts including ceramics. “A large collection of Bencharong enamel ware, prized by Thompson, has been assembled in the Bencharong Room, off the entrance hall that was once the house’s kitchen. Bencharong porcelain, made in China for the Thai market from the 17th century, incorporates typical Thai iconography with a heavily worked decorative background. Thompson’s collection, one of the largest in Thailand, includes examples of most periods and shapes.” (Iola Lenzi, Museums of Southeast Asia, p. 141).

The Southeast Asian Ceramic Museum

The Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum (SEACM) was established in 2000 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Bangkok University. The museum, which houses the ancient ceramics donated by Mr. Surat Osathanugrah, the founder of Bangkok University, aims to instill an appreciation for Thai cultural heritage in all visitors. At the beginning, the museum was named “Bangkok University Museum”. It is located about a 30-minute drive from Bangkok central on the campus of Bangkok University.

In 2002, the University began the construction of the underground museum connecting to the Surat Osathanugrah Library. The design  imitates the design of ancient Thai kilns which were built partially underground, and this inspired the idea of having the museum partially underground as well. The museum proper is comprised of the permanent and special exhibition halls with beautifully displayed showcases and excellent signage, a museum book store, and ceramic shard archive. Its former curator was Roxanna M. Brown.

official website: http://museum.bu.ac.th/en/newsletter/#


The Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum

For thousands of years peninsular Thailand was one of the earliest and most important trade centers connecting east and west. Indian traders plyed its coastline long before the Arabs, Chinese and Europeans reached its shores, bringing their cultures and religions along with their trade goods. Glimpses into this past can be seen up and down the coastline at such archaeological sites as Chaiya and Khao San Gaeo, their artefacts often housed in the wats and museums of the area, including the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum, which opened in 1974.

The museum has an eclectic offering that ranges from dramatic religious statuary to ancient objects of daily life including the ceramics that have been found in the area (both domestic and imported), which includes an impressive amount of beads.

The museum is located on Rachadamnoen Road in the town of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in southern Thailand

official website: https://www.tourismthailand.org/Attraction/nakorn-si-thammarat-museum


The famous David Vases dated 1351 that can be seen in the British Museum


The British Museum

official website

An overview of the Sir Percival David Collection in the Sir Joseph Hotung Centre for Ceramic Studies in the British Museum (London) may be read here.


The Museum of East Asian Art, 12 Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QJ

official website



Ann Arbor: The Carl Guthe Collection of the University of Michigan contaions a considerable number of Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares collected from archaeological sites in the Philippines. The Museum of Anthropological Archaeology is a research, teaching, and curation unit of the College of Literature, Science and Arts for anthropological and archaeological collections from around the world. The Museum welcomes researchers, classes and members of the public by appointment. For more information: https://lsa.umich.edu/ummaa/about-us/visiting-ummaa.html


Ithaca: The Johnson Museum of Art in Cornell University houses amongst its extensive Asian collections, a significant collection of Chinese and Japanese art (its two largest collections), plus selections from Southeast and South Asia, and Western Asia. Of special note is a collection of Vietnamese ceramics known as the Menke collection, on loan to the Johnson Museum. It consists of fifty-seven objects ranging in date from the Dong Son Culture (700-43 BC) through the seventeenth century and was assembled over more than forty years by the eminent nuclear physicist John R. Menke (1919-2009). For more information: https://museum.cornell.edu/exhibitions/vietnamese-ceramics-menke-collection

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornel University is located at 114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853. For more information : https://museum.cornell.edu

A small ca 1480 Chu Dau kiln B&W covered jar


Portland: The Portland Art Museum has an eclectic collection that features a surprising number of Asian artefacts that include Japanese ukiyo-e prints as well as ceramics that range from Japanese Hizan and Joseon plates and bowls to Iran luster wares to Han Dynasty tomb wares to 14th century Chinese and Vietnamese blue-and-white. Furthermore, their extensive online collection website features excellent photographs (often multiples from a variety of angles that are very useful for study). The link below takes you to the search for 'ceramics':


The physical museum is conveniently located on the historic Park Blocks in the center of downtown Portland, which is easy to get around by public transit or on foot, and open Wednesdays-Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



The Haiphong City Museum is housed in a colonial building and focuses on the city's history, with English translations on displays. There are interesting finds from the Trang Kenh and Viet Khe Tombs archaeological sites and some ceramic pieces reminding visitors of the role Haiphong would have played as an important port when Vietnam was a leading exporter of B&W ceramics produced by the numerous kilns in the vicinity in the 15th and 16th centuries. Haiphong became famous when Hobson discovered an inscription on a B&W bottle in the Topkapi Saray Museum that identified its maker as a female potter from a district (Nam Sach) in the Red River Delta near Haiphong. The ceramic pieces are far too few (photo: 15C Le Dynasty Annamese plate).

Address: 66 Điện Biên Phủ, Minh Khai, Hồng Bàng, Hải Phòng, Vietnam (closed at lunchtime 10:30 am-2:00 pm).


The Hanoi Museum is .... more coming soon

Read more about it here.


The Hoi An Trading Ceramic Museum is located in a restored traditional wooden house at 80 Trần Phú, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam, well worth a visit as Vietnam was an active trading stop for ships from China and Southeast Asia alike.

A very short distance from Hoi An, close enough to bicycle to (located on the banks of Thu Bon river, about 3km from Hoi An Ancient Town), is the Thanh Ha ancient pottery village, which dates back to the 1600s. It is famous nationwide for its traditional craft of making pottery and its delicate pottery products. They have kept their traditional method of making pottery – hand made and wheel thrown. In 2019 it was listed as the National Intangible Culture Heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Read more about it here.