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Press release

Asian Art 100

Asian Art 100

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

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 presents 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.


  • The Arts of South Asia (Opening Fall 2015)
  • Asian Art at 100: A History in Photographs (September 5, 2015–May 22, 2016)
  • Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (October 31, 2015–October 11, 2016)
  • Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection (October 20, 2015–July 31, 2016)
  • Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama (December 19, 2015–June 5, 2016)

Current and Past

  • Chinese Textiles: Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016)
  • Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th-18th Century (August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016)
  • The Royal Hunt: Courtly Pursuits in Indian Art (June 20–December 8)
  • 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 (reopened March 13)
  • A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection (through June 19, 2016)
  • China: Through the Looking Glass (through September 7)
  • Painting with Thread: Chinese Tapestry and Embroidery, 12th-19th Century (Closed)
  • Sumptuous: East Asian Lacquer, 14th-20th Century (Closed)
  • Celebration of the Year of the Ram (Closed)
  • Innovation and Spectacle: Chinese Ritual Bronzes (Closed)
  • The Art of the Chinese Album (Closed)
  • Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas (Closed)

Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas 
December 20, 2014–June 14, 2015 
This installation features elaborate mandalas, embroidered tangkas, devotional sculpture, and jewelry for the gods. A highlight of the display is 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
October 25, 2014–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
October 25, 2014–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.

February 7, 2015–March 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.

February 14–September 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 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. Works on view in the second rotation include Sharaku’s yakusya-e, a pair of holding-screens The Rebellions of the Hōgen and Heiji Eras, and five prints selected from a newly acquired Oriental Masterprint (1975) by Roger Shimomura.   
The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection
March 14, 2015–June 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.

May 7–September 7 (Extended from August 16)
The Costume Institute’s spring 2015 exhibition, presented in the Museum’s Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Center, explores how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, resulting in highly creative distortions of cultural realities. High fashion is 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 Chinese donors.

June 20–December , 2015 
Expressions of imperial authority are a universal aspect of royal imagery of the hunt, with rulers pursuing prey as metaphors for power and martial prowess. This theme is celebrated throughout the history of Indian painting, most notably during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar, and became ubiquitous in later Rajput painting. This installation will feature works from the Museum’s collections of Asian art, Islamic art, and arms and armor, as well as from New York private collections.
The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.


August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016 
Showcasing some of the most important and unusual textiles in the Museum's collection, this installation will explore the cultural importance of silk in China. Works on view will include three rare pieces dating from the Tang dynasty (618–906), 11th- and 12th-century tapestries from Central Asia, spectacular embroideries, and a monumental panel from the late 17th or early 18th century depicting phoenixes in a garden.

August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016 
Featuring many of the most important examples of Chinese lacquer in the Museum's collection, this installation will explore the intricate techniques used to embellish lacquer objects with scenes derived from history and literature, images of popular gods, representations of real and mythical animals, landscapes, flowers, and birds.

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 will document the changing face of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum. Complementing the display will be a wall-mounted timeline with images of the building, floor plans, and small versions of these historic photos to place them in the context of the larger Museum.

October 31, 2015–October 11, 2016 
Over the past 40 years, the Metropolitan's collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy has grown to be one of the greatest in the world. 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 paintings by scholars. Presented in two rotations, this exhibition will highlight 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.

October 20, 2015–July 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 Japan. Over 300 masterworks, including outstanding examples of every type of Japanese art represented, were bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum. This exhibition, which serves as a tribute to a great collector, will reveal 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).
Press preview: Monday, October 19, 10:00 a.m.–noon

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 will highlight five rare wooden sculptural masks that represent a largely unrecorded category of late medieval Indian devotional art. The masks depict the characters in the story of the 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 arts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan since they opened in 1994. With works dating from the second century B.C. to the 14th century, the new installation will feature some 150 choice examples of early Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain sculpture and ritual objects. The 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.


May 22, 6:00–7:30 p.m., Great Hall 6:00 p.m.; GRR 6:30 p.m.
Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, in conjunction with Met Fridays, the evening will begin with traditional ancient hula and Tahitian dances in the Great Hall, followed by an hour-long program in The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Visitors will enjoy performances by Telly Leung, veteran Broadway performer and star of the upcoming Broadway production Allegiance, koto player Yumi Kurosawa, and taiko drummer Soh Daiko, as well as an additional presentation of traditional ancient hula and Tahitian dances. Highlighting the centennial of the Met’s Department of Asian Art, Mike Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman of the Department of Asian Art, will present slides from the Museum’s storied collection of Asian art.
This evening is presented by the Museum’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative.

By Monica Bincsik, Assistant Curator, Met's Department of Asian Art
May 18, 11 a.m., July 21, 11 a.m., and August 28, 11 a.m., Gallery 225, The Sackler Wing Galleries
By John Carpenter, Curator, Department of Asian Art
June 30 11 a.m. and July 31, 11:00 a.m., Gallery 225, The Sackler Wing Galleries
By Midori Oka, Research Associate, Department of Asian Art
August 8, 11:00 a.m., Gallery 225, The Sackler Wing Galleries

By Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Met's Department of Asian Art
May 11, 10:30 a.m., June 2, 10:30 a.m., and June 12, 10:30 a.m., Gallery 251

  • Exhibition Tours—The Royal Hunt: Courtly Pursuits in Indian Art
By John Guy, Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asian Art
July 7, 10:30 a.m., Gallery 251
By Rachel Parikh, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Arms and Armor
July 28, 10:30 a.m. and August 14, 10:30 a.m., Gallery 251

  • Friday Focus Lecture—“Ritualized Bravery: The Royal Hunt in Indian Painting and Photography”
Dr. Deborah Hutton, Associate Professor of Art History, The College of New Jersey, September 18, 4 p.m., Bonnie Sacerdote Lecture Hall

Spend an hour contemplating a single work of art selected from the exhibition Korea: 100 Years of Collecting at the Met, through close observation and deep discussion. May 22, 7–8 p.m., Carson Family Hall. Registration required.
The Observant Eye is made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Jeff C. Tarr.

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.

June 5, 7:00p.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.

  • Sonic Blossom
October 30–November 8, 2015, during Museum hours
The Blanche and A. L. Levine Court, Gallery 915 (Oct. 30–31 and Nov. 6–8)
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Gallery 206 (Nov. 1–5)
Free with Museum admission

“May I give you a song?” This question is at the heart of artist Lee Mingwei’s interactive performance work Sonic Blossom (2015). In the Met’s Modern and Contemporary Art and Asian Art galleries, trained singers will approach Museum visitors at random with the query. If your answer is “yes,” the vocalist will perform a Schubert lied. Mingwei compares the sporadic performances to “the folding and unfolding of a ‘sonic blossom.’ ”
Presented in collaboration with Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW).

  • Wave Movements (U.S. Premiere)
November 6 and 7 at 7:00 p.m.
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
Tickets start at $50

A new collaborative work by Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire and Bryce Dessner of The National for chamber orchestra and film takes as its inspiration the wave cycles of the world’s oceans. The music, composed directly to the actual rhythms of waves, is performed in sync with a film made by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, who created an iconic series of seascapes in the 1980s. Also on the program is Thomas Adès’s imaginative Chamber Symphony. The performance is part of CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic’s New Music Series, with conductor André de Ridder.
Co-commissioned by Met Museum Presents, and the Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, Cork Opera House, Sydney Festival, and Saint-Denis Festival.
Presented in collaboration with the New York Philharmonic.

  • Tan Dun’s Water Passion
November 14 at 7:00 p.m.
The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing
Tickets start at $75
Tan Dun’s work isn’t just heard and seen, it is experienced—and his powerful Water Passion is experienced as never before when the Grammy- and Academy Award-winning Chinese composer stages the piece in the shadow of The Temple of Dendur. Originally written as a response to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, this astonishing work begins and ends with the sound of water emanating from 17 transparent, illuminated bowls.

  • The Grand Tour: Asia
November 20 and 27, and December 4 and 11 at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Free with Museum admission
Bringing “unexpected epiphanies” (New Yorker), the Met’s Grand Tour is reinvented for its third season. This must-attend event is a passport to the cultural treasures of multiple countries, allowing “travelers” to experience intimate performances in multiple spaces, as they journey from gallery to gallery.
This season, it offers The Grand Tour: Asia, a wholly original exploration of performance art from India to China, with dance and musical performances throughout the Florence and Herbert Irving Asian Wing.

  • Half the World and All of Time: Asian Art at the Met
October 1 and 8, November 19, and December 3 at 11:00 a.m.
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
Tickets start at $30; series, $75
Discover Asia through the eyes of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s curatorial staff. This series examines the remarkable diversity and richness of the continent’s cultural traditions, as reflected in one of the finest and most comprehensive art collections in the world.

October 1:
Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman, Department of Asian Art 
“How New Yorkers Brought Asia to the Met: A Brief History”

John Guy, Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, Department of Asian Art
“Treasures from the Roof of the World: Rereading the Arts of Nepal and Tibet”

October 8:
Soyoung Lee, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art
“Gotham’s Korea: New Yorkers Envision the Former Hermit Kingdom”

Jason Sun, Curator, Department of Asian Art
“Harder Than Steel: China’s Enduring Passion for Jade”

November 19:
Denise Leidy, Curator, Department of Asian Art
“Pilgrims along the Silk Road: Buddhist Art across East Asia”

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art 
“Gods and Goddesses: The Hindu Pantheon of South and Southeast Asia”

December 3:
John Carpenter, Curator, Department of Asian Art
“A Millennium of Masterpieces: Mary Griggs Burke’s Japanese Art”

Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Assistant Curator, Department of Asian Art
“A Century of Changing Tastes in Chinese Painting”

  • The Met’s newest Family Guide, Good Guys and Bad Guys: Characters from Asia, will debut this summer. It presents a pan-Asian celebration of art from China, India, Japan, and Korea for families. The exploration of five sculptures and a ritual object introduces young visitors and their families to powerful protectors and fierce beings in Hindu, Buddhist, and other traditions. The guide will appeal to young visitors’ love of narrative and help them distinguish the characteristics of the different figures and thereby determine whether these characters are good, bad, or both. The guide includes writing, drawing, and at-home activities, as well as a glossary that explains terms and figures in a central location. It is the second in a planned suite of guides focusing on Asian art, which the Museum inaugurated in 2014 with Journey to a Chinese Garden Court, celebrating the newly reopened Astor Chinese Garden Court.


May 11, 2015

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