MIA scores major gift of Japanese art, and a new curator

UPDATE: Here is Euan Kerr’s radio story:

Suzuki Kiitsu, "Mt. Fuji from Miho-no-matsubara," is one of more than 1600 Japanese works of art donated to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by Elizabeth and Willard Clark on June 4, 2013


The Minneapolis Institute of Arts today announced it’s received a major gift of Japanese art, totaling close to 1700 works and valued at more than $25 million.

The gift comes from collectors Elizabeth and Willard Clark and the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, based in Hanford, California.

Daiitoku myōō Artist Unknown 13th cent., second half (Kamakura period) Colors on wood Image courtesy of the MIA

The Clarks are giving away their center’s entire collection; in addition the couple has offered up its  private collection as part gift, part purchase.

This gift increases the MIA’s Japanese art collection, which is already substantial, by a third.

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi; Ghost of Okiku, 19th cent., late; Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk Image courtesy of the MIA

Willard “Bill” Clark is the former CEO of World Wide Sires Inc., a marketing organization for cattle genetics and insemination, and has been recognized multiple times for his contributions to Japan’s dairy cattle industry.

Clark says he considered many museums as possible homes for the collection, but the MIA was the best of all the options, and he’s glad it’s going there.

“It makes you feel really good because this is kind of my life’s passion if I can put it that way and I buy things that I like but also in hopes that other people might enjoy them.”

Shibata Zeshin; Four Elegant Pastimes, 19th century., second half; Six-panel screen pair; ink and color on gold leaf; Image courtesy of the MIA

In conjunction with the acquisition, Andreas Marks, the current director and curator of the Clark Center, will join MIA staff as head of the Department of Japanese and Korean Art.

The collection will make its MIA debut in October with a special highlights exhibition titled “The Audacious Eye: Japanese Art from the Clark Collections.”

‘Transformative’ gift of Japanese art comes to MIA