BELOW IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE MUSEUMS BEYOND EUROPE CONTAINING ORIENTAL CERAMICS.
THE PALACE MUSEUM – THE FORBIDDEN CITY
The Palace Museum
4 Jingshan Qianjie
Established in 1925, the Palace Museum was installed in the imperial palace of two consecutive dynasties – the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911). The magnificent architecture, also known as the Forbidden City, and the vast holding of the imperial collections of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and decorative objects make it one of the most prestigious museums in China and the world at large. In 1961 the imperial palace was designated by the State Council as one of China’s foremost-protected cultural heritage sites, and in 1987 was made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Location, Area, and Layout
Situated at the heart of Beijing, the Palace Museum is approached through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian’an men). Immediately to the north of the Palace Museum is Prospect Hill (also called Coal Hill), while on the east and west are Wangfujing and Zhongnanhai neighbourhoods. The location was endowed with cosmic significance by ancient China’s astronomers. They correlated the emperor’s abode, which they considered the pivot of the terrestrial world, with the Pole Star (Ziwei yuan), which they believed to be at the center of the heavens. Because of its centrality as well as restricted access, the palace was called The Forbidden City. It was built from 1406 to 1420 by the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, the Yongle Emperor (r. 1403-1420) who, upon usurping the throne, determined to move his capital northward from Nanjing to Beijing. The Ming dynasty fell to the Manchu Qing in 1644 and in 1911 the Qing dynasty was overthrown by the republican revolutionaries. The last emperor Puyi (ruled from 1909 to 1911 under the reign name Xuantong) continued to live in the palace after his abdication until he was expelled in 1924. During nearly six hundred years, twenty-four emperors lived and ruled from this palace.
The Forbidden City is surrounded by 10-metre-high walls and a 52-metre-wide moat. Measuring 961 meters from north to south and 753 meters from east to west, it covers an area of 780,000 square meters. Each of the four sides is pierced by a gate: the Meridian Gate (Wu men) on the south, the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu men) on the north, the Eastern and Western Prosperity Gates (Donghua men and Xihua men). Once inside, visitors will see a succession of halls and palaces spreading out on either side of an invisible central axis. The buildings’ glowing yellow roofs levitating above vermilion walls is a magnificent sight. The painted ridges and carved beams all contribute to the sumptuous effect.
Known as the Outer Court, the southern portion of the Forbidden City centers on three main halls –Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe dian), Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghe dian), and Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohe dian) – with Belvedere of Embodying Benevolence (Tiren ge) and Belvedere of Spreading Righteousness (Hongyi ge) flanking them. It was here in the Ourter Court that the emperor held court and conducted grand audiences. Mirroring this arrangement is the Inner Court comprising the northern portion of the Forbidden City. The Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong), the Hall of Union (Jiaotai dian), and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunning gong) straddle the central axis. On the east and west are residences called the Six Eastern Palaces and the Six Western Palaces. An Imperial Garden is laid out at the north end. Other major buildings in the Inner Court include the Hall for Abstinence (Zhai gong) and Hall of Sincere Solemnity (Chengsu dian) in the east, and the Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian), the Belvedere of Raining Flowers (Yuhua ge), and the Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining gong) in the west. The Inner Court is comprised of not only the residences of the emperor and his consorts but also venues for religious rituals and administrative activities.
In total, the buildings of the two courts account for an area of some 163,000 square meters. These were precisely designed in accordance with a code of architectural hierarchy, which designated specific features to reflect the paramount authority and status of the emperor. No ordinary mortal would have been allowed or would even have dared to come within close proximity to these buildings.
Founding of the Palace Museum
The Xinhai revolution in 1911 ended with the abdication of the last emperor Puyi. The provisional government allowed him to continue to live in the Inner Court of the Forbidden City. Meanwhile, all of the imperial treasures from palaces in Rehe (today’s Chengde in Hebei province) and Mukden (today’s Shenyang in Liaoning province) were moved to the Forbidden City for public display in the Outer Court in 1914. While confined to the Inner Court, Puyi continuously used such vestiges of influence as still remained to plot his own restoration. He also smuggled or pawned a huge number of art works under the pretext of granting them as rewards to his courtiers and minions or taking them out for repair.
In 1924, during a coup launched by the warlord Feng Yuxiang, Puyi was expelled from the Forbidden City. The management of the palace fell to a committee that was set up to deal with the concerns of the deposed imperial family. The committee also counted and audited the imperial collections. After a year of intense preparations, on 10 October 1925, the committee arranged a grand ceremony in front of the Palace of Heavenly Purity to mark the inception of the Palace Museum. News of the opening flashed across the nation, and such was the scramble of visitors on the first day that traffic jams around Beijing brought the city almost to a standstill.
According to an inventory of twenty-eight volumes published in 1925, the treasure trove left by the Qing numbered more than 1,170,000 items including sacrificial vessels and ancient jade artefacts from the earliest dynasties; paintings and calligraphy dating to as early as the seventh century; porcelain from the Song and Yuan; a variety of enamel and lacquer ware; gold and silver ornaments; antiques made of bamboo, wood, horn and gourds; religious statues in gold and bronze; as well as thousands of imperial robes and ornaments; textiles; and furniture. In addition, there were countless books, literary works, and historical documents. All these were divided into separate collections that were placed under teams of staff to sort and collate. Exhibition halls were opened to display some of the treasures, while writers and editors worked away at publishing in book or journal form all the new areas of research and academic inquiry that the establishment of the museum had ushered in. The Palace Museum was soon a hive of activity.
Collection Evacuation and the Ensuing Split
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese, having annexed territory in China’s north-east, proceeded to march on Beijing. With this looming threat, the museum authorities decided to evacuate its collection rather than let it fall into enemy hands or risk destruction in battle. For four frantic months between February and May 1933, the most important pieces in the collection were packed into 13,427 crates and sixty-four bundles and sent to Shanghai in five batches. Another six thousand some crates were assembled from the Antiquities Exhibition Institute, the Summer Palace, and Imperial College. In 1936 they were dispatched to Nanjing where a depository had been built and a branch of the Palace Museum was to be established. On 7 July 1937 shots fired at the Marco Polo Bridge west of Beijing heralded the eruption of the Sino-Japanese War. Within a year, the Japanese had penetrated to most of eastern China. Then the treasures stored in Nanjing had to be moved again, this time by three routes to Sichuan, where they were secreted in three locations, Baxian, Emei and Leshan. Only at the end of the war were they consolidated in Chongqing, whence they were returned to Nanjing in 1947. By then the Kuomintang were considerably weakened, and with the imminent takeover by the Communist armies of areas south of the Yangtze River, they began their retreat to Taiwan. Between the end of 1948 and the dawn of 1949, the Kuomintang selected 2,972 crates for shipping across the Strait to storage in Taichong. A rival Palace Museum was built in Taipei to display these antiquities, opening to the public in 1965. Most of crates left in Nanjing were gradually returned to Beijing, although to this day 2,221 crates remain in storage in Nanjing.
During this tumultuous decade of war and revolution, none of the treasures was lost or damaged even though the volume involved was enormous. This was largely due to the dedication of the Palace Museum staff, whose achievement in preserving these treasures was nothing short of heroic. But it was also as a result of this long period of upheaval that the treasures were dispersed. Yet the rationale for keeping the collection together, representative as it is of traditional culture, seems so incontestable that most people believe the treasures will be re-united one day. In the early 1950s, shortly after the establishment of the People’s Republic, the Palace Museum staff worked with a new will and enthusiasm to restore the Forbidden City to its former glory. Where previously the dirty and dilapidated halls and courts lay under weeds and piles of rubbish, some 250,000 cubic meters of accumulated debris were now cleared out, giving the palace a sparkling fresh look. A policy of comprehensive restoration was also launched, and in time the crumbling palace buildings, repaired, and redecorated, once again looked resplendent. All the tall buildings were equipped with lightning rods, while modern systems of fire protection and security were installed. It has been a priority of the government, particularly since the beginning of the reform era in the early 1980s, to keep the surrounding moat dredged and clean.
The collections of the Palace Museum are based on the Qing imperial collection – ceramics, paintings and calligraphy, bronze ware, timepieces, jade, palace paraphernalia, ancient books and historical documents. During the 1950s and 1960s, a systematic inventory was completed redressing the legacy of inaccurate cataloguing. After the founding of the Museum, the collection was moreover augmented, for example by the salvage of a number of precious artefacts from a jumble of apparently worthless objects. After more than a decade of painstaking efforts, some 710,000 objects from the Qing palace were retrieved. At the same time, through national allocations, requisitions and private donations, more than 220,000 additional pieces of cultural significance were added, making up for such omissions from the original Qing collections as coloured earthenware from the Stone Age, bronzes and jades from the Shang and Zhou dynasties, pottery tomb figurines from the Han dynasty, stone sculpture from the Northern and Southern Dynasties, and tri-colour pottery from the Tang dynasty. The ancient paintings, scrolls and calligraphy added to the collections were particularly spectacular. These included, from the Jin dynasty, Lu Ji’s A Consoling Letter (Pingfu tie) in cursive script, Wang Xun’s Letter to Boyuan (Boyuan tie) and Gu Kaizhi’s Nymph of the Luo River (Luoshenfu tu); from the Sui dynasty, Zhan Ziqian’s landscape handscroll Spring Excursion (Youchun tu); from the Tang dynasty, Han Huang’s Five Oxen (Wuniu tu), Du Mu’s running-cursive script handscroll Courtesan Zhan Haohao (Zhang haohao shi); from the Five Dynasties, Gu Hongzhong’s The Night Revels of Han Xizai (Han Xizai yeyan tu) “; from the Song dynasty, Li Gonglin’s Imperial Horses at Pasture after Wei Yan (Lin Wei Yan mufang tu), Guo Xi’s Dry Tree and Rock, Level Distance Landscape (Keshi pingyuan tu), and Zhang Zeduan’s Life along the Bian River at the Pure Brightness Festival (Qingming shanghe tu) – all masterpieces without exception.
Unremitting though this attempt at recovery has been, however, there have been further exertions to acquire such works as Zhang Xian’s Illustrating Ten Poems (Shiyong tu) (Song dynasty), Nai Xian’s calligraphy Poems Reflecting on the Past in the Southern City (Chengnan yonggu shi) (Yuan dynasty), Shen Zhou’s landscape hand-scroll After Huang Gongwang’s Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (Fang Huang Gongwang fuchun shanju tu) (Ming dynasty), Shi Tao’s ink bamboo Loudly Calling Yuke (Gaohu Yuke tu) (Qing dynasty). The first two were spirited out of the palace by Puyi on the excuse of bestowing them on his brother Pujie; they fell into the hands of others and it was not until the 1990s were they returned to their rightful place in the Palace Museum collections.
Development and Efforts at Accessibility
From the 1950s onwards, the museum’s existing storehouses were completely overhauled to provide a damp-proof and insect-proof environment for the treasures. In the 1990s a new storehouse with a capacity of over 600,000 items was built, equipped with controls for maintaining constant temperature and humidity, as well as safeguards against fire and theft. A workshop was established in the 1950s and expanded in the 1980s into the conservation department. These not only continued traditions of craftsmanship, but also drew upon scientific discoveries to facilitate the restoration of damaged artworks. In the past few decades the conservation department has treated as many as 110,000 objects from the Palace Museum and other public collections. Besides its continuous refurbishment of the main courts and halls, the museum has opened galleries to display bronzes, porcelain, crafts, paintings and calligraphy, jewellery, and clocks to expand the scope of its exhibitions. A number of thematic shows have been held in galleries devoted to temporary exhibitions. Travelling exhibitions have also graced various museums home and abroad. Since the beginning of the economic-reform era, an increasing number of exhibitions have been mounted in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania. All of them have aroused great interest and admiration and played a key part in the promotion of international understanding and cultural exchange. General interest has been further stimulated by the Palace Museum’s range of publications touching on both the architecture of its buildings and its vast cultural holdings. Published works include Famous Historical Paintings in the Palace Museum Collection, Selected Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, National Treasures, Palaces of the Forbidden City, Daily Life in the Forbidden City, A Collection of National Treasures, and The Complete Palace Museum Collection (in 60 volumes). There are also two periodicals: Palace Museum Journal and The Forbidden City.
Although the Forbidden City used to be unapproachable, now having been converted into a public museum, it never stops making itself more accessible by means of digital technologies. The website of the Palace Museum, established in 2001, is dedicated to presenting a digital Palace Museum by which the cultural messages of the Forbidden City can be effectively disseminated world wide.
MUSEUM OF THE QIN SHIHUANG TERRACOTTA ARMY
The Terracotta Army was discovered in the spring of 1974 in the eastern suburbs of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province by a group of farmers who were digging a water well 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Mount Li. The region around the mountain was riddled with underground springs and watercourses. In 195 B.C., Liu Bang himself — the first emperor of the dynasty that followed the Qin — had ordered that ‘twenty households’ should move to the site of the mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang, “shi huang” means the first emperor) to watch over the tomb. To this day, twenty villages sit in the immediate vicinity of the mausoleum, one of them the hamlet where the Yang family lived; the terracotta army may have been rediscovered by the direct descendants of the people left to guard it. For centuries, there were reports of pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis — roofing tiles, bricks, and chunks of masonry — having been occasionally dug up in the area.
This most recent discovery prompted archaeologists to investigate. The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the First Emperor of Qin in 210-209 BC. The Army’s purpose was to help rule another empire with Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. Consequently, they are also sometimes referred to as “Qin’s Armies.” The material to make the terracotta warriors originated on Mount Lishan. In addition to the warriors, an entire man-made necropolis for the emperor has been excavated. Up to 5 metres (16 feet) of reddish, sandy soil had accumulated over the site in the centuries following its construction, but archaeologists also found evidence of earlier, impromptu discoveries. During the digs at Mount Li, archaeologists found several graves from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, whose diggers had obviously struck terracotta fragments, only to discard them as worthless with the rest of the back-filled soil.
According to historian Sima Qian (145-90 BC), construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and involved 700,000 workers. Geographer Li Daoyuan, six centuries after the death of the First Emperor, explained that Mount Li had been chosen as a site for its auspicious geology: it once had a gold mine on its north face and a jade mine on its south face, demonstrating not only its sacred value, but also perhaps how the tunnels had come to be dug in the first place. Qin Shi Huang was 13 when construction began. He specifically stated that no two soldiers were to be made alike, which is most likely why he had construction started at that young age. Sima Qian, in his most famous work, Shiji, completed a century after the mausoleum completion, wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, scenic towers, officials, valuable utensils and “wonderful objects,” with 100 rivers fashioned in mercury and above this heavenly bodies below which he wrote were “the features of the earth.” Some translations of this passage refer to “models” or “imitations,” but he does not use those words.
Recent scientific work at the site has shown high levels of mercury in the soil on and around Mount Lishan, appearing to add credence to Sima Qian’s writings. The tomb of Shi Huang Di is under an earthen pyramid 76 metres tall and nearly 350 square metres. The tomb remains unopened, in the hope that it will remain intact. Archeologists are afraid that if they do excavate the tomb, they might damage some of the valuables buried with emperor Qin Shi Huang. Only a portion of the site is presently excavated, and photos and video recordings are prohibited in some areas of the viewing. Only few foreigners, such as Queen Elizabeth II, have been permitted to walk through the pits, side by side to the army. Soldier Horse.
Qin Shi Huang’s necropolis complex was constructed to serve as an imperial compound or palace. It comprises several offices, halls and other structures and is surrounded by a wall with gateway entrances. It was also said as a legend that the terracotta warriors were real soldiers, buried with Emperor Qin so that they could defend him from any dangers in the next life.
Henan Province, Zhengzhou City,
Nongye Road, #8
Henan Museum, located in Zhengzhou, is a newly-built modern history and art museum. It opened to the public on May 1, 1998.Henan Museum occupies an area of more than 100,000 square meters, with a total floor space of 78,000 square meters.
Henan Museum is one of the oldest museums in China. In June, 1927, General Feng Yuxiang, commander in chief of the National Revolutionary Army and the chairman of Henan Province at that time, brought forward his opinion of “Education is Essential Politics for a Country” in his political programme for managing of Henan.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM TAIWAN
No.221, Sec. 2 Zhishan Rd.,
Taipei City 11143,
The National Palace Museum was originally established as the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City on 10 October 1925, shortly after the expulsion of Puyi, the last emperor of China, from the Forbidden City by warlord Feng Yü-hsiang. The articles in the museum consisted of the valuables of the former Imperial family.
In 1931, shortly after the Mukden Incident Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government ordered the museum to quickly move its most valuable pieces out of the city to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army. Select pieces from the Palace Museum and the Preparatory Office of the Central Museum were selected for removal, as well as rare books of the Central Library and artefacts of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica. As a result, on 6 February 1933, 13,491 boxes were moved in two trains from the plaza in front of the Gate of Divine Might to the North. The collection was moved to several places, including Shanghai, Anshun, Yibin as the Imperial Japanese Army advanced farther inland during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which merged into the greater conflict of World War II. The Chinese Civil War resumed following the surrender of the Japanese ultimately resulting in Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s decision in evacuating the art to Taiwan.
When the fighting worsened in 1948 between the Communist and Nationalist armies, the Directors of the Palace Museum made the decision to send some of the most prized items in the Museum’s collection to Taiwan. Hang Li-wu, later director of the museum, supervised the transport of some of the collection in three parts over four days to the harbor in Keelung, Taiwan aboard the freighter Chung Ting during the February of 1948. A total of 2,972 crates were shipped in three groups and arrived in Keelung in February 1948. By the time the items arrived in Taiwan, the Communist army had already seized control of the Palace Museum collection so not all of the collection could be sent to Taiwan. The 2,972 crates of artifacts moved to Taiwan only accounted for a quarter of the items originally transported South from Beijing, although the pieces represented some of the very best of the collection.
The collection in Keelung was stored in a railway warehouse following transport across the Taiwan Strait and was later moved to a sugar cane factory near Taichung. The collection was then moved to the new museum in Wai-shuang-hsi upon its completion in 1965. During the 1960s and 1970s, the National Palace Museum was used by the Kuomintang to support its claim that the Republic of China was the sole legitimate government of all of China, in that it was the sole preserver of traditional Chinese culture amid social change and the Cultural Revolution in mainland China, and tended to emphasize Chinese nationalism.
In English, the institution in Taipei is distinguished from the one in Beijing by the additional “National” designation. In common usage in Chinese, the institution in Taipei is known as the “Taipei Gugong” , while that in Beijing is known as the “Beijing Gugong”.
The PRC has said that the collection was stolen and that it legitimately belongs in China, but Taiwan has long defended its collection as a necessary act to protect the pieces from destruction, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Relations regarding this treasure have warmed recently as the PRC has agreed to lending relics and that Beijing Palace Museum curator Zheng Xinmiao said that artifacts in both mainland and Taiwan museums are “China’s cultural heritage jointly owned by people across the Taiwan Strait.”
OSAKA MUSEUM OF ORIENTAL CERAMICS
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka 1−1−26,
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, was founded in November 1982, commemorating the donation of the world-renowned “Ataka Collection” by the twenty-one companies of the Sumitomo Group. In addition to the Collection which comprises nearly one thousand pieces of Chinese and Korean ceramics, the Museum accepted generous donations including the Korean ceramics of the Rhee Byung-Chang Collection, works by Hamada Shoji, Persian ceramics and Chinese snuff bottles. The Museum also acquired several Japanese ceramics. Among the whole museum collection, two works are registered as National Treasures and thirteen works are Important Cultural Properties of Japan. In terms of both quality and quantity, our collection of oriental ceramics ranks as one of the finest in the world.
In the galleries, we systematically display approximately four hundred notable pieces of Chinese, Korea and Japanese ceramics. In addition to the permanent exhibition, we organize special exhibitions covering specialist themes that are informative for further academic research and also enhance art appreciation.
The galleries are equipped with various useful devices including the natural-light-drawn display room, displaying platform with a turntable and shock-absorbent platforms.
Our Museum, located in the peaceful vicinity of Nakanoshima park in the heart of metropolitan Osaka, aims to be a new type of urban museum making the best use of our rich collection and latest displaying equipments to ensure visitors an enjoyable museum experience in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.
HONG KONG MARITIME MUSEUM
Central Ferry Pier,
Phone:+852 2813 0912
The museum illustrates how China, Asia and the West have contributed through the ages to the development of boats, ships, maritime exploration and trade, and naval warfare. While concentrating on the South China coast and its adjacent seas, it also covers global trends and provides a comprehensive account of Hong Kong’s growth and development as a major world port and maritime centre. The museum will include semi-permanent and special exhibitions, interactive displays, educational events, cafe and a museum shop.
The spaces is filled with some of Hong Kong’s most cultural heritage objects. Themes explored in the galleries include: China`s maritime heritage, the Canton Trade, the Pirate Coast, Hong Kong`s harbour, the evolution of China`s sea routes, relations with foreign powers, maritime communications, charting, navigation and pilotage, sounds of the sea, shipping today, port development and safety at sea and Chinese marine art. Each of the galleries has been set up with the help and support of individuals and corporations in the maritime industry, who believe that the preservation of Hong Kong`s maritime history should be a priority.
One of the highlights of the museum is a painted scroll that depicts historical events of piracy in China in the early 19th century. The scroll is one of Hong Kong’s most important historical artefacts and one of the jewels of the museum’s collection. It was painted in the early 19th century by an unknown artist to commemorate the defeat of the pirates who prowled the waters around Guangdong in the early Jiaqing period (1796-1820). The scroll will be prominently displayed in the new Sea Bandits Gallery at Pier 8. In addition to the original, museum visitors will have the opportunity to view the digital scroll in minute detail.
THE KYUSHU CERAMIC MUSEUM
The Kyushu Ceramics Museum is located in Arita town, Saga Prefecture, Japan. It was built to contribute to the local cultural heritage, and the development of ceramics and pottery culture throughout Kyūshū, southern Japan. A valuable and extensive exhibition of work such as the famous Kanbara Collection of old Imari from Europe of the 17th to 18th centuries, as well as the Shibata Collection of Arita and Kakiemon porcelain.
THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM
East India Square,
161 Essex Street,
The roots of the Peabody Essex Museum date to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society, an organization of Salem captains and supercargoes who had sailed beyond either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. The society’s charter included a provision for the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” which is what we today would call a museum. Society members brought to Salem a diverse collection of objects from the Northwest coast of America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, India and elsewhere. By 1825, the society moved into its own building, East India Marine Hall, which today contains the original display cases and some of the very first objects collected.
The East India Marine Society was founded in Salem, in Essex County, Massachusetts. Salem was also home to the Essex Historical Society (founded in 1821), which celebrated the area’s rich community history, and the Essex County Natural History Society (founded in 1833), which focused on the county’s natural wonders. In 1848, these two organizations merged to form the Essex Institute (the “Essex” in the Peabody Essex Museum’s name). This consolidation brought together extensive and far-ranging collections, including natural specimens, ethnological objects, books and historical memorabilia, all focusing on the area in and around Essex County. In the late 1860s, the Essex Institute refined its mission to the collection and presentation of regional art, history and architecture. In so doing, it transferred its natural history and archaeology collections to the East India Marine Society’s descendent organization, the Peabody Academy of Science (the “Peabody”). In turn, the Peabody, renamed for its great benefactor, the philanthropist George Peabody, transferred its historical collections to the Essex. In the early 20th century, the Peabody Academy of Science changed its name to the Peabody Museum of Salem and continued to focus on collecting international art and culture. Capitalizing on growing interest in early American architecture and historic preservation, the Essex Institute acquired many important historic houses and was at the forefront of historical interpretation. With their physical proximity, closely connected boards and overlapping collections, the possibility of consolidating the Essex and the Peabody had been discussed over the years. After in-depth studies showed the benefits of such a merger, the consolidation of these two organizations into the new PEM was effected in July 1992. The museum possessed extraordinary collections — more than 840,000 works of art and culture featuring maritime art and history; American art; Asian, Oceanic, and African art; Asian export art; two large libraries with over 400,000 books, manuscripts, and documents; and 22 historic buildings. Today’s collection has grown to include approximately 1 million works and Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside China. True to the spirit of its past, PEM is dedicated to creating a museum experience that celebrates art and the world in which it was made. By presenting art and culture in new ways, by linking past and present, and by embracing artistic and cultural achievements worldwide, the museum offers unique opportunities to explore a multilayered and interconnected world of creative expression.
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street,
New York 10028-0198,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”