Until recent years Indian and Southeast Asian art has been poorly represented in the Museum's collections, not through any deliberate policy of neglect but rather through passivity fostered by insufficient public interest in this field. Historically, Indian and Southeast Asian art has not been the highest priority of the Department of Far Eastern Art. Since the appointment of Martin Lerner as curator, however, this area of collecting has had a strong advocate on the Museum's staff. As museums are in effect a palimpsest of successive curatorial biases, it was inevitable that the imbalance would eventually be redressed, and over the past ten years we have accomplished a great deal toward strengthening our holdings of Indian and Southeast Asian art. We have been strongly supported in our efforts by an enthusiastic public response and, no less significantly, by a dedicated group of collectors, connoisseurs, and generous donors.
The Kronos collection of Indian and Southeast Asian art, formed in a relatively short period, is a model of what can still be accomplished in this field. Keen judgment, sensitivity, and a good eye have shaped a collection of uncommonly high quality and of surprisingly broad range. Those responsible for creating the collection have been most generous in sharing their treasures, and I am happy to have this opportunity to express my gratitude for the significant gifts made to the Metropolitan from the Kronos Collections over the last few years. These gifts have not only markedly enriched the Museum's holdings but they have also, most notably in several instances where the objects are both beautiful and unique, advanced our knowledge of the Asian civilizations they represent.
We are pleased to reaffirm the Metropolitan's commitment to Indian and Southeast Asian art and to pay tribute to all those who have worked to promote the field, particularly Martin Lerner for his untiring and catalyzing efforts both within the Museum and outside of it. We hope this exhibition will engender further interest in the great artistic traditions of India and Southeast Asia, which deserve a place of pride beside the art of the other civilizations represented in the Metropolitan's collections.