About Us

Our Story

The Billie Trimble Chandler Arts Foundation, Inc., also known as The Texas State Museum of Asian Culture and Education Center, was established in 1974 as a non-profit organization. 

The museum is the brainchild of Mrs. Billie Trimble Chandler, who fell in love with the people, art, and culture of Japan while teaching there. She aimed to build a bridge of friendship between America and Japan by sharing her experiences.

 Starting in the late 1950s, Mrs. Chandler lived and taught children at a US base in Japan for nearly seventeen years. During this time, she collected thousands of artifacts and commissioned numerous works of art. Upon her return to Corpus Christi, Texas, she opened her private museum in 1973, and these objects became the core of the museum’s collection. Over time, the collection was expanded to include items from other Pacific Rim nations and the Indian subcontinent. Reflecting this broader scope, in 1982, the institution changed its name to the Museum of Oriental Cultures. 

Since its inception, the Museum’s collection has been housed in various locations. In 1996, construction began on a new site in the city’s convention and museum district. Our museum also underwent a name change and became the Asian Cultures Museum and Education Center. The museum offers a unique opportunity for visitors to gain insight into the rich cultural heritage of Asia. Through its extensive collection of artifacts and educational programming, the museum provides a glimpse into the diverse traditions, customs, and art forms of the region. We invite you to visit us and experience the beauty and wonder of Asian cultures firsthand.

The museum’s mission is to promote awareness and understanding of Asian cultures by organizing educational programming, cultural events, and exhibits based on its vast collection of Asian artifacts. The collection includes a five-foot bronze Amida Buddha, a six-foot jade Chinese warrior, over 800 Japanese Hakata dolls and paintings, Chinese porcelain, and traditional costumes. It also features collections from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. One of the museum’s most significant projects is presenting effective educational programming to school children in the region. Our staff provides various presentations and hands-on activities to visiting students to offer them multilingual and multicultural experiences, helping them prepare for a global society.

Billie Trimble Chandler

Billie Trimble Chandler, the founder of the museum, was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1904. After getting married, she moved to Corpus Christi where she raised her family. She enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin in her late forties, and in 1955, an ad in a magazine caught her eye and headed off to Okinawa, Japan. She spent many years as a teacher at the US base there. During her stay, she studied Japanese history, religion, and culture and collected an impressive amount of Japanese artifacts. She was particularly drawn to the beauty of Hakata clay dolls and Japanese flower arrangements and even created a new style of art called “Hakata Ryu”, which combined the two. 

In 1971, she returned to Corpus Christi with her vast collection of Japanese art, which amounted to the largest private shipment ever to cross the Pacific. She acquired a warehouse and established her dream of opening a museum to share the culture she had experienced and to build a bridge between the two countries. 

In 1974, she gave her entire collection to the non-profit organization, the Billie Trimble Chandler Art Foundation, so that everyone could have the opportunity to see the art she had spent so many years collecting.