The Metropolitan Museum's survey of Japanese artworks, "5,000 Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection," includes 400 items from its 35-year-old acquisition, some never previously presented. The exhibition runs now through June 6.
The comprehensive group of works spans the Neolithic period to the 19th century, including archaeological artifacts, Buddhist scrolls, ceramics, screen paintings from the Edo periods, fan paintings, and sculptures from the Heian and Kamakura periods.
This is the first time 220 items will be displayed together, including "Old Plum," 6-foot panels from a gold-leaf sliding door, dated 1647. Some of the objects have already been displayed in the Japanese wing, which opened in 1987.
Part gift, part purchase, the collection was worth $5.1 million when acquired in 1975, the museum's largest at the time. In the cash crunch that institutions are experiencing this year, it's becoming common to curate exhibits exhumed from the archives.
On display are earthenware vessels and 5th century clay tomb sculptures, a 13th-century Japanese hanging scroll, a 16th-century tea ceremony, 18th-century paintings of fantastical animals from Shinto shrines, 19th-century guest books signed by painter Sakai Hoitsu and printmaker Kitagawa Utamaro, landscapes and seasonal themes.