Exhibitions / Mingei of Japan

Treasures New and Old from the Museum’s Collection

April 2, 2016 - October 2, 2016

Curator: Rob Sidner

After the Museum’s year and a half devoted to American folk art, craft and design it seems appropriate to return to Mingei’s origins and to plumb again the rich core of the Museum’s collection, its Japanese arts of daily life. Brief selections from Soetsu Yanagi’s writings (he coined the word mingei) will accompany and give context to a wide range of objects, not thought of as art until Yanagi’s inspired insight, but today recognized as beautiful and often timeless.

Recent gifts and purchases will be featured along with long-held objects that are well-known to Museum members and much-admired by them. Among donated treasures to be seen for the first time will be important textiles: indigo-dyed bed-clothes, futon covers, door-way hangings, wrapping cloths, kimono, kimono belts made from recycled material and painted Boys’ Day and birthday banners.

A large selection from 153 mostly-19th century Shinto ema paintings just acquired by purchase will also be exhibited for the first time. These are folk paintings, depictive of animals familiar and exotic, of vegetables and people in a manner truly disarming. They were sold at shrines (still are) and hung there by devotees as offerings to accompany prayers.

Among familiar treasures will be: baskets, soba cups, tea kettles and pots, cabinets, distinctive coats of the Ainu (Japan’s indigenous people), kimono of national treasure Keisuke Serizawa, a selection of anonymous pottery as well as that of famed potters Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

Discover extra benefits for Mingei members during the month of April.