Brooklyn Museum Adds Hundreds of Artworks by Black and Asian-American Artists to Its Collection

The museum has acquired its first artwork by an Asian American woman, Hisako Hibi.

Hisako Hibi, Satoshi Studying(1945–54). Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum has acquired more than 300 new works as part of its ongoing project to expand its representation of Black artists and fill gaps in the museum’s representation of Asian American history and identity.

The acquisitions span categories and mediums—from Dyani White Hawk‘s radiant painting Untitled (Pink and Blue) (2022) to María Magdalena Campos-Pons‘s Polaroid work Voyeurs and Beholders of… (2008) to Gim Jeong-hui’s calligraphic work Letter (1830). These new additions are bound for the museum’s American Art galleries, set to open in 2024.

Gim Jeong-hui, Letter (1830). Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

“Significantly, 2023 saw the acquisition of our very first artwork made by an Asian American woman–Hisako Hibi [to the American Art collection],” Stephanie Sparling Williams, the museum’s curator of American art, said in an email to Artnet News. She is not the first in the museum’s collection more broadly, as there are Asian American women represented in the contemporary and feminist art collections, the museum clarified.

That work, Satoshi Studying (ca. 1945), was gifted by Ibuki Hibi Lee—the daughter of the artist and Matsusaburo Hibi. The artist was born in Fukui, Japan, and immigrated to San Francisco with her family in 1920 but was imprisoned in an internment camp in 1942. The work depicts her son, the brother to donor Ibuki Hibi Lee, reading at his desk above a busy street after the family moved to New York.

The Brooklyn Museum did not disclose a budget or prices for any new pieces it purchased. But Williams, the newest member to the American art team, briefly discussed its acquisitions strategy, highlighting that many of them came from gifts to the museum.

Esther Mahlangu, Untitled (2017). Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

“Direct partnership with artist estates and gifts of art have been a hugely impactful way to broaden the American Art collection to include works by Asian Americans, African Americans, and women, in particular,” Williams said, adding that the strategy of the American art department “expands and amplifies” its holdings in preparation for the October 2024 reinstallation of collection galleries.

That transformation was teased last year when the museum boasted the acquisition of 200 objects, focusing on indigenous textiles and art created by women. Full details for the renovation have not yet been revealed but the museum said the entire American Art wing will be reinstalled.

“While we are preparing for our upcoming American collection reinstallation, these recently acquired works will not be featured in that presentation,” the museum later clarified.

Brooklyn Museum 2023 acquisitions

Dyani White Hawk, Untitled (Pink and Blue) (2022). Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

The work Untitled (Pink and Blue) by White Hawk was acquired through the Marie Bernice Bitzer Fund and was called “an emblematic example” of her approach to abstraction and study of ancestral art forms. The artist blends Lakota beadwork and historic forms with European American canvas painting.

The 1889 painting Golden Gate, Yellowstone by Grafton Tyler Brown—the first Black artist to create landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and California, was given to the museum by Charlynn and Warren Goins, who also gifted two works by Black still-life painter Charles Ethan Porter and a watercolor by Laura Wheeler Waring of her Pennsylvania studio. The Goinses are major donors to the museum, which celebrating them for helping establish “one of the strongest collections in the world” of Black artists.

Grafton Tyler Brown, Golden Gate, Yellowstone (1889). Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

Meanwhile, the design artist Sheila Bridges has donated her Wallpaper (Harlem Toile) (2005) and other pieces from her collaboration with renowned English manufacturer Wedgwood for the museum’s Decorative Arts and Design collection. The wallpaper specifically is critical of the “deeply prejudiced narratives” in design history.

“We are grateful for the generous support of our benefactors, who help us build a collection that sparks awe and wonder, bridges our humanity, and illuminates important historical stories,” museum director Anne Pasternak said in a statement. “It is a privilege to welcome these remarkable and meaningful contributions to our collection and to share them with our visitors.”


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