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In celebration of its golden anniversary, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is mining its world-renowned collection to unearth the artistic significance of a metal that has captivated mankind since ancient times.

On view from March 4–May 8, 2016, Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art presents approximately 50 artworks that feature gold in a variety of artistic contexts. Spanning 1,500 years of history and diverse Asian cultures, the exhibition investigates the universal regard for this precious metal and the unique physical and symbolic aspects that make it suitable for so many artistic purposes.

"Being both ductile and malleable, gold can be stretched into thin sheets and spun into long wires, meaning that a little can go a long way," says Jeff Durham, assistant curator of Himalayan art and curator of the exhibition. "And as you'll see in Hidden Gold, it also does a lot of symbolic heavy lifting."

Through fascinating objects ranging from a Qu'ran manuscript to a Daoist ceremonial robe to a Mongolian Buddha, the exhibition reveals how gold's luster and longevity have been leveraged by artists to suggest immortality, power, divinity and more.

"With so many exquisite gold-worked objects in our collection, the range on view in Hidden Gold is truly impressive — as is the depth of insight into this alluring metal," says museum director and CEO Jay Xu. "We also consider the legacy of the Gold Rush, which brought so many Asian immigrants to this country and is a timeless link between California and Asia."

As a nod to the Gold Rush and its impact on the state's history, Hidden Gold boasts a large raw nugget. Showcased alongside Asian coinage, this innovative installation shares how gold is transformed into money.

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