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Mary Griggs Burke and the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation intends to give MIA significant portion of renowned collection of Japanese Art

Minneapolis, MN, June 9, 2006—Mary Griggs Burke and the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation have stated their intention to give a significant portion of their renowned collection of Japanese art to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA). The Burke collection is recognized as the world’s most important and comprehensive private collection of Japanese art outside Japan. With objects spanning 4,000 years of Japanese art history, the collection is noted for its great depth and breadth.

“This is the kind of gift of which most museums can only dream. We are enormously grateful to Mrs. Burke and the Foundation for their vision, commitment and generosity. The Minneapolis Institute of Art will become one of the principal repositories of Japanese art in this country,” said William Griswold, director and president of the MIA.

The MIA is now celebrating the opening of a new, 113,000-square-foot wing designed by renowned architect Michael Graves. The relocation of the museum’s library to the new wing opened up nearly 4,400 square feet of space contiguous to the present Japanese galleries. The decision to expand the display of Japanese art into this space comes closely on the heels of the 1998 museum-wide expansion when Japan gained some 6,000 square feet. The present galleries now encompass nearly 12,400 square feet, making it one of the largest displays of Japanese art in the United States. In addition to sheer square footage, the museum commissioned a traditional Japanese architectural firm to build a formal audience hall and a teahouse in 2001. These rooms provide a sympathetic setting for important objects from the permanent collection. The commissioning of these rooms, and the present expansion, resoundingly communicates the museum’s strong commitment to Japanese art.

“Our expanded permanent installation for Japanese Art—from nine to fifteen galleries—provides visitors with an extremely strong overview of Japan’s aesthetic achievements. A significant gift of objects from the Burke collection will greatly enhance our display, and will provide for the possibility of frequent rotations and specialized exhibitions. Mrs. Burke is a collector’s collector, blessed with her own discriminating eyes, but also wisely advised in amassing her remarkable collection. Since our 1998 expansion we have depended on Mrs. Burke’s generosity through frequent loans. The importance of this gift cannot be overstated, and in recognition of Mrs. Burke’s intention, all fifteen rooms have been designated as the Mary Griggs Burke Galleries of Japanese Art,” said Dr. Matthew Welch, curator of Japanese and Korean art at the MIA.

Included in the MIA’s grand opening installation are fifty-five objects on loan from the Burke Collection. The objects will be on view, on a rotational basis, through December 3, 2006.

The Mary Griggs Burke Collection
The Mary Griggs Burke Collection of Japanese Art is a comprehensive collection that includes the ancient arts of Japan, Buddhist and Shinto sculpture and painting, Yamato-e, calligraphy, Muromachi ink painting, tea wares, historic and contemporary ceramics and lacquerware, and impressive examples from nearly every painting movement since the fifteenth century including Rimpa, Tosa, Ukiyo-e, Kano, Shijo-Maruyama and Nanga schools. Mrs. Burke’s first important purchase of Japanese art occurred in 1956 when she purchased Edo period screen at auction that was once owned by Frank Lloyd Wright, illustrating scenes from the 11th century “Tales of Genji. ” The Burke collection now has holdings of more than 900 works of art, making it one of the largest privately held collections outside Japan. To date, the Burke collection is the only foreign collection of Japanese art to be featured at the Tokyo National Museum (1985). Among others, the Burke collection’s exhibition history includes shows at the MIA in 1977 and 1994, and shows in 1975 and 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and a recent tour (2005-06) of selections from the collection to four Japanese museums, including the prestigious Miho Museum in Shigaraki.

Mary Griggs Burke, a Saint Paul native, is the granddaughter of Crawford Livingston and Colonel Chauncy Griggs, two St. Paul civic leaders who made fortunes in lumber, railroads, and utilities. Mrs. Burke’s mother, Mary Livingston Griggs, visited Japan on a world tour in 1902. The trip inspired Mrs. Burke, who visited Japan for the first time in 1954 and has made more than thirty subsequent trips. Mrs. Burke is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has taken courses in art at Columbia University in New York. Burke lives in New York City, where a portion of her apartment has been remodeled in Japanese style to provide an appropriate place to display her collection. In 1987 the Japanese government awarded her the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Gold and Silver Star for her efforts to promote better understanding and appreciation of Japanese art and culture in the United States. Mrs. Burke, a noted philanthropist, has served on the board of directors of many non-profit organizations and has received many honorary doctorate degrees. She is an honorary trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Asia Society, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Also notable

In addition to loans from Mary Burke, objects borrowed from other New York collections are also enhancing the museum’s Japanese display. John C. Weber, who has become a significant presence on the Japanese art scene during the last decade, has lent twenty-one objects from his collection, including several spectacular ukiyo-e paintings and a stunning group of Japanese textiles. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has sent their famous gilded set of sliding doors illustrating a massive blossoming plum branch by the 17th century master Kano Sansetsu. These screens were originally the reverse side of a set of doors owned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In a quid pro quo exchange, the MIA lent their set to the Metropolitan last year, and the Met has reciprocated by sending their screens to Minnesota in time for the museum’s grand reopening. They will be on view in the Japanese galleries until October.

MIA Grand Opening Highlights on Loan from the Burke Collection

Ox and Herdsman
Sekkyakushi, fl. 1st half 15th century
Japan, Muromachi period (1392-1573)
Ink on paper

Flock of Cranes
Ishida Yutei, 1721-86
Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)
Pair of folding screens; ink, gold and colors on gilded paper

Platter with Pine Tree Motif, early 17th century
Momoyama period (1573-1615)
Karatsu ware; glazed stoneware with iron oxide painting

About the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art, home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses nearly 100,000 works of art representing more than 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt van Rijn, Nicolas Poussin, and Vincent van Gogh, as well as internationally significant collections of Asian art, decorative arts, Modernism, photographs, and African and Native American art.

General admission is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee. Museum hours: Sunday, 11 a.m–5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Closed Monday. For additional information, call (612) 870-3131 or visit www.artsmia.org.

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