The Department of Chinese and South and Southeast Asian Art has benefited greatly from generous gifts from knowledgeable collectors. Augustus L. Searle, Alfred F. Pillsbury, Richard P. Gale, Louis W. Hill, Jr., and Ruth and Bruce Dayton have donated collections of international reputation. These include ancient Chinese bronzes, ancient and post-Song jade, Chinese monochrome ceramics, and classical Chinese furniture. In addition, curators have built exquisite collections of Qing dynasty silk textiles and Miao textiles.
Some of the first works of art to enter the museum’s collection were from South (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Afghanistan) and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines), beginning in 1914 when Charles Freer donated several Thai Buddhist sculptures. In 1929 Sarah Bell Pillsbury Gale gave the museum its first major Indian work of art, a 12th century bronze (ca. 1100) Dancing Shiva (Nataraja). The highlight of the South Asian collection is a monumental stone Yogini sculpture from 10th century south India. Today the South Asian collection numbers about 150 objects and the Southeast Asian collection numbers around 183.
Within the galleries there are two Chinese period rooms including an original reception hall from the late Ming dynasty and a Suzchou-area library (1797).
Mia’s Affinity Groups are a great way for museum members to connect more closely with special areas of art interest, allowing you to delve deeper into the curatorial area of your choice.Learn More