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Chicago's Heritage Museum of Asian Art features pieces dating back thousands of years

Chicago museum looks to preserve, promote traditional Asian art
Chicago museum looks to preserve, promote traditional Asian art 02:09

CHICAGO (CBS) — A museum on the third floor of a Bridgeport building showcases thousands of years of history through Asian art.

For Dee Lou, working at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art is a dream job.

"We can learn from all the pieces from the old time like 2,500 years ago," she said.

Coming from China only a few years ago, the associate executive director knows her mission is to help preserve and promote the tradition of Asian art.

The museum started in a small storefront 10 years ago and has since tripled in size. It is now located on 35th Street in the Bridgeport Art District.

As one of only a few museums in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to Asian art, collectors are happy to offer loans or gift collections.

"This is the most amazing part of my work. People are so generous they like to show and share with the public," Lou said.

Many of the pieces are from Chicago area collectors. A collection of Chinese snuff bottles came from an Orland Park man who simply walked into the museum with a suitcase.

"When I opened the box, I was like wow this is so beautiful," Lou said.

The museum has three galleries to explore, showcasing several dynasties spanning multiple countries, including classic furniture, the Year of the Dragon collections, and a jade collection.

"People love jade especially Asian people, they love jade," she said.

Through ancient history, jade was seen as a sacred material. The most modern piece found at the museum — cicada paper weights.

Lou says the museum may be on the smaller size, but it's home to a world-class collection. 

The museum is offering free tours, interactive classes, and admission through May. 

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