Met Museum Celebrates Department of Asian Art’s 100th Anniversary with Yearlong Program of 19 Exhibitions and Installations

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2015 marks the centennial of the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Asian Art. In the Year of the Ram, which  officially  began  during Lunar  New  Year in February 2015, the department will present  19 exhibitions and installations organized for a one-year celebration of its formidable holdings of art  from  across  Asia. The department today oversees  more  than  50 galleries  and  one of the most  comprehensive collections of Asian art  anywhere in the world.


  • Celebration of the Year of the Ram (through April 19)
  • Innovation and Spectacle: Chinese Ritual  Bronzes
    (October 18,  2014March 22, 2015)
  • The Art of the Chinese Album (through March 29)
  • Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas (through June 14)
  • Painting with Thread: Chinese Tapestry and  Embroidery, 12th-19th Century
    (through August 16)
  • Sumptuous: East Asian  Lacquer 14th-20th Century (through August 16)
  • Korea: 100 Years of Collecting at the Met (through March 27, 2016)
  • Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met (through September 27)
  • The Arts of Nepal and Tibet (reopens March 13)
  • A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection 
    (March 14, 2015June 19, 2016)
  • China: Through the Looking Glass (May 7August 16)
  • The Royal Hunt: Courtly Pursuits in Indian Art (June 20December 13)
  • The Arts of South Asia (Opening Fall 2015)
  • Asian Art at 100: A History in Photographs (September 5, 2015May 22, 2016)
  • Masterpieces of Chinese Painting  from the Metropolitan Collection
    (September 12, 2015April 24, 2016)
  • Chinese Textiles: Eight Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (September 12, 2015June 19, 2016)
  • Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th-18th Century (September 12, 2015June 19, 2016)
  • Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection
    (October 20, 2015July 31, 2016)
  • Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama
    (December 19, 2015June 5, 2016)


Celebration of the Year of the Ram
Through April 19, 2015

In celebration of the Year of the Ram, the Metropolitan Museum  will present a selection of remarkable works drawn exclusively from the Museum’s permanent collection. These include lively sculptures of, jade, rock crystal, and ceramic, along with a charming painting  of grazing goats by an 18th-century master.

The Art of the Chinese Album
Through March 29, 2015
This exhibition  showcases the album,  one of the most intimate  of Chinese painting formats. The special structure  of the album,  in which each turn of the page is an opportunity to remake the world anew, presents unique possibilities and challenges for artists. For Dai Benxiao (1621-1693), the album  was a chance to plumb the depths of a single style, like a jazz improviser  testing the limits of a single musical mode. For Shitao (1642-1707), the album  provided the opportunity to shock and surprise  the viewer with radical shifts in perspective and subject from  page to page. For Dong Qichang  (1555-1636) and his followers,  the album was a stage on which to display their art historical knowledge by devoting each leaf to the style of a different old master. The exhibition explores these and other  ways that artists have  used the format of the album  from  the 12th century to the  present.
The exhibition is made  possible  by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas
Through June 14, 2015
This  installation features elaborate mandalas, embroidered tangkas, devotional sculpture, and  jewelry for the gods. A highlight of the display will be ritual costumes used by masked dancers who reenacted divine conflicts to ensure abundance and ward off malicious forces. All the objects on display served as visually pleasing tools that allowed individuals to reach toward the elusive idea  of transcendence.
The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and  Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

Painting  with  Thread: Chinese Tapestry and Embroidery, 12th-19th Century
Through August 16, 2015
The  thinness  and  strength of silk makes it the ideal  material for weaving or embroidering elegant painting-like images characterized by fluent  outlines, rich colors, and even the addition of calligraphic inscriptions and seals. Drawn from  the Metropolitan’s superb holdings of Chinese  tapestries and embroideries, this installation presents dramatic landscapes, flowers and  birds, famous immortals, and stunning examples of calligraphy, showcasing the artistic imagination and  technical sophistication of China’s textile artists.
The exhibition is made  possible  by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Sumptuous: East Asian Lacquer, 14th-20th Century
Through August 16, 2015
For more than two millennia, lacquer has been a primary medium in the arts of East Asia. This installation explores the many ways in which  this material has been manipulated to create designs by painting, carving, or by inlaying precious materials such as gold or mother-of-pearl. Drawn entirely from  the permanent collection, this display celebrates the artistry and creativity needed to work  this demanding material while also illustrating both  the similarities and  the differences found in the lacquer arts of China, Korea,  and Japan.

Korea: 100 Years of Collecting  at the Met
February 7, 2015March 27, 2016
In celebration of the Asian  Art Department’s Centennial, the installation traces how the Korean art collection at the Met  was formed, and how the Western perception and appreciation of Korea has evolved over the  past century as it has transformed from the “Hermit Kingdom” of the late 19th  century to the trend-setting contemporary culture of “K-pop.”
The exhibition is made possible by Samsung.

Discovering  Japanese  Art: American Collectors and the Met
February 14September 27, 2015 (first rotation: February 14May 31, 2015; second rotation: June 13September 27, 2015)
This exhibition tells the story of how  the Met  has built its comprehensive collection of Japanese art since the early 1880s, when  the Museum owned  just a small, eclectic array of Japanese decorative arts. Highlighting masterworks from  ancient to modern times, it explores the trends that  shaped art collecting and  the reception of Japanese art in America. It also  sheds light on key American collectors and  curators whose passion for Japanese art helped  the Museum build its now  world-renowned collection. Works on view in the first rotation include Hokusai’s Great Wave, Ogata Karin’s Irises at Yatsuhashi, Suzuki Kiitsu’s Morning Glories, and sliding-door paintings that once belonged to the Zen  temple Ryoanji in Kyoto.
The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and  Ira  D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

A Passion  for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection
March 14, 2015June 19, 2016
Heber  R. Bishop’s collection of carved  jades was formed  in the last quarter of the 19th century and  bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in 1902. Consisting of over 1,000 pieces-primarily Chinese  jades of the 18th  and 19th centuries, and  jades from Mughal India-it was  the first major collection of its kind  in the country. This exhibition features a selection  of the finest  examples from  this renowned collection. 
The exhibition is made  possible  by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

China: Through the Looking Glass
May 7August 16, 2015
The Costume Institute’s spring 2015 exhibition, presented in the Museum’s ChineseGalleries and  Anna Wintour Costume Center, will explore how China has fueled  the fashionable imagination for centuries, resulting in highly creative distortions  of cultural realities.  High  fashion will  be juxtaposed with Chinese  costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, as well as films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. From  the earliest  period  of European contact with  China in the 16th century, the West  has been fascinated with enigmatic objects from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers  from  Paul  Poiret  to Yves Saint  Laurent, whose fashions are infused with romance, nostalgia, and make-believe. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic  references into  a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and  cultural traditions.
The exhibition is made  possible  by Yahoo.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast  and several  generous Chinese  donors.

The Royal Hunt: Courtly  Pursuits in Indian Art
June 20December 13, 2015
Expressions of imperial authority are  universally embodied in royal  imagery  of the hunt, rulers  pursuing prey as metaphors for  power and martial prowess. This theme is celebrated throughout the history of Indian painting, most notably in the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar, and  became  ubiquitous in later Rajput painting. The installation will combine works from  the Asian art  department with  loans  from  the departments of Islamic  Art and  Arms & Armor, as well as from  New  York  private collections.

Asian Art at 100: A History in Photographs
September 5, 2015
May 22, 2016
A selection  of archival photographs of galleries and installations dating from 1907 to 1945 documenting the changing face of Asian art  at the Metropolitan Museum. Complementing the display  will be a wall-mounted timeline with images of the building and floor  plans, along with small versions of these historic photos to place them  in the context of the larger museum.

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan’s Collection
September 12, 2015
April 24, 2016 (first  rotation: September 12, 2015January 24, 2016; second  rotation: February 6April 24, 2016)
During the last 40 years,  the Metropolitan’s collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy has grown to be one of the greatest in the world. Replete with masterpieces dating from  the Tang dynasty (608-917) to the present, the collection encompasses the vast historical sweep  of the  brush  arts  of China, from  serene  Buddhist scriptures to bombastic court  portraits to lyrical scholars’ paintings. Presented  in two rotations, this exhibition highlights the gems of the permanent collection in a chronological display,  with  an emphasis on works from  the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties.
The exhibition is made  possible  by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Chinese Textiles: Eight Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection
September 12, 2015
June 19, 2016
Showcasing some of the most  important and unusual textiles in the Museum’s collection, this installation explores the cultural importance of silk in China. In addition to three rare pieces dating from the Tang  dynasty ( 618-906), it includes 11th and 12th century tapestries from Central Asia, spectacular embroideries, and a monumental late-17th- or early-18th-century panel showing phoenixes in a garden.

Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th-18th Century
September 12,  2015
June 19, 2016
Featuring many of the most important examples of Chinese  lacquer in the Museum’s collection, the installation explores the laborious techniques used to embellish lacquer objects with scenes derived from history or literature, images of popular gods,  and representations of animals-real and mythical-landscapes, flowers, and  birds.

Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection
October 20, 2015
July 31, 2016 (first  rotation: October 20, 2015February 21, 2016; second  rotation: March  5July 31,  2016)
Over  the course  of five decades, Mary Griggs Burke  (1916-2012), a New  York  based collector of Asian art,  built one of the finest  and  most  comprehensive private collections of Japanese art  outside of Japan. Over 300  masterworks, including many of the most  outstanding examples, were  bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum. This exhibition, which  serves as a tribute to a great  collector, reveals the distinctive features of Japanese art  as viewed  through the lens of 50 years of collecting: the sublime spirituality of Buddhist and  Shinto  art; the boldness of Zen ink  painting; the imaginary world  conjured up  by the Tale of Genji and classical Japanese literature; the sumptuous colors  of bird-and-flower painting; the subtlety of poetry, calligraphy and  literati themes;  the aestheticized accoutrements of the tea ceremony; and  the charming portraiture of courtesans from  the “floating world” (ukiyo-e).
The exhibition is made  possible  by The Miriam and Ira  D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian  Temple Drama
December 19, 2015
June 5, 2016
Dramas presented during religious  festivals  in southern India are an important aspect  of popular Hindu celebration. This exhibition highlights five rare wooden sculptural masks that represent a largely unrecorded category of late medieval  Indian devotional art. The masks  depict  the protagonists in a deadly battle between Vishnu in his man-lion avatar, Narasimha, and an evil king whose destruction was essential for the restoration of order in the universe.


Chinese Treasury
Opened May 19, 2014

This gallery, which  recreates the type of collecting and display found in 18th-century treasure cabinets (duobaoge), features some  of the Museum’s most  precious works of Chinese  art including sculptures and vessels of ivory, rhinoceros horn, glass, porcelain, and jade. Touchpads allow viewers  to read introductory texts  for all of the objects as well as to explore further by grouping the works of art  digitally by material and  by theme.

The Arts of Nepal and Tibet
Reopened March 13, 2015

These newly reinstalled galleries for Nepalese  and  Tibetan arts display some 100 sculptures, paintings, and  textiles from the 9th  to the 19th century, showcasing the 14 masterpieces acquired recently from the Zimmerman Family Collection.

The Arts of South Asia
Opening Fall 2015

This reinstallation represents the first reconfiguration and  reinterpretation of the galleries for the art of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan since they were first  opened in 1994. Encompassing works dating from the second century B.C. to the 14th century, the new installation features some 150 choice examples of early Hindu, Buddhist and Jain  sculpture and  ritual  objects. These  galleries  encompass the early temple  arts  of the Shunga, Kushan and Gupta eras of early northern India, the Gandharan regions  of the northwest, and  the medieval  arts of Kashmir  and  the Pala­ Sena dynasties of eastern India.



  • Friday Focus—Collecting Japan  for the Met in the Late 19th Century
    Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, The British Museum, and Monika Bincsik, Assistant Curator, Met’s Department of Asian Art, April 10, 4 p.m., Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall
    * In conjunction with Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met.
  • Friday Focus—Dressing the Divine in Himalayan Art
    Katherine Anne  Paul, Curator of Arts of Asia, Newark Museum, March 27, 4 p.m. Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall
    * In conjunction with Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas.


  • Compositions: Asian Painting
    April 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Draw inspiration from original works of art. Join talented art instructors in the galleries for informal sketching fun. Materials are provided, but you may bring your own sketchbook; pencils only. Instruction provided every thirty minutes. Come and go as you like between each session. Gallery 227


  • Paradise Interrupted
    March  21, 3:00 & 7:00p.m., The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing

    A new work  by artist Jennifer  Wen  Ma  and composer Huang Ruo,  and  starring Qian Yi. An excerpt from  the eagerly  awaited opera will be staged  at the glorious Temple  of Dendur. This performance is presented in conjunction with  the exhibition China: Through the Looking: Glass, on view May  7-August 16, 2015. Tickets  start  at $54- Bring the Kids for $1 tickets  are available.
    This  performance, inspired  by the exhibition China: Through the  Looking  Glass, is made  possible  by Adrian Cheng. Additional funding is provided by Sarah Solomon Billinghurst.
    Paradise Interrupted is co-commissioned  and co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA and Lincoln Center Festival.
  • Lang Lang at the Met
    May 14, 8:00 p.m., the Great Hall

    Lang Lang performs in the grand setting of the Met’s Great Hall.
    This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition China: Through the Looking· Glass. Tickets start at $100.
    This performance, inspired  by the exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, is made possible by Adrian Cheng.

  • The Great Wave: Japanese  Art at the Met
    March  12, 19 & 31, 11:00  a.m.,  The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

    One of the great masterpieces of world  art, Katsushika  Hokusai’s Under the Wave off Kanagawa (ca. 1830-32)-better known  as the “Great  Wave”-is said to have inspired Debussy’s  La Mer (The Sea) and Rilke’s Der Berg (The Mountain). In this three-part series, Met curator John  Carpenter examines the three critical elements of Hokusai’s thundering seascape to lead viewers on a larger discovery of the Met’s extraordinary collection  of Japanese art, from historical, to classical, to contemporary works. Tickets start at $30 for one talk; $75 for all three

    “Turbulent  Waves: Images of Seas and Streams” 
    March  12, 11:00  a.m.
    “Eternal  Mountains: Landscape Paintings and Prints”
    March  19, 11:00  a.m.
    “People at Work and Play: Genre Scenes” 
    March  31, 11:00  a.m.

    June 5, 7:00 p.m., The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

    The New York Philharmonic performs  a Japan-focused program with works  by Takemitsu, Messiaen,  and Dai Fujikura, as well as the U.S. premiere of Misato Mochizuki’s Si blue, si calme.  It will be conducted  by Jeffrey Milarsky, one of the leading conductors of contemporary music today.
    Tickets start  at $25-Bring the Kids for $1 tickets are available  for this performance.

# # #

March 17, 2015


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