The Metropolitan Museum of Art Receives 320 Japanese Artworks and $12.5 Million Endowment

The museum also celebrates the 100th anniversary of its Asian art department.

The late Japanese art collector Mary Griggs Burke. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Just in time for New York’s Asia Week (see The Go-To Guide for 2015 Asia Week New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been gifted a trove of Japanese artworks that will elevate its already impressive collection to “one of the finest and most comprehensive outside of Japan,” according to museum director Thomas P. Campbell. The donation also comes as the museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of its Asian art department.

The 320-piece gift comes from the estate of late museum trustee and Japanese art collector Mary Griggs Burke, and includes treasures like paper and silk scrolls bearing ink paintings, works by master artists from the Edo period, and a statue by Kaikei depicting the wrathful deity Fudo Myoo.

In addition to the artworks, the donation includes a $12.5 million endowment to fund programming, fellowships, and acquisitions of Japanese art.

A similar donation has been simultaneously made to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which will receive the same endowment along with almost 700 objects from the Burke collection.

Burke, who died in 2012, was a Minnesota native who came to New York to attend college at Sarah Lawrence. She visited Japan for the first time in 1954, and began collecting Japanese art alongside her husband, Jackson Burke, a few years later. Over the next 50 years, the pair amassed a collection of artworks spanning 500 years.


In November, the Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, which oversaw the donations, sent a list to the two museums outlining the specific pieces they would be getting. Burke kept both of the museum’s holdings in mind when considering the gifts prior to her death. For example, she donated 70 Korean ceramic works to the Institute, but none to the Met, as she knew they already possessed several.

The Chinese works in the Burke collection will go to the Yale University Art Gallery.

The gift comes as part of the Met’s $70 million fundraising drive to increase staff, programming, and future acquisitions in the Asian art department. According to museum officials, the museum has $31 million already pledged, including the Burke gift.

The New York Times reports that both institutions will organize exhibitions in the fall showcasing the works from the Burke collection. At the Institute, “Gifts of Japanese and Korean Art From the Mary Griggs Burke Collection” will run from September 26–April 16, 2016. At the Met, “Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection” will run from October 20–July 31, 2016.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.