After an eight-year hiatus, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Pre-Columbian, Native North American, Japanese, Korean and textile collections have returned to public view. The works will be showcased in the museum’s new north wing galleries, located on the second floor adjacent to the new, soaring glass atrium. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the north wing is flanked on either side by the new east wing, which includes the contemporary, modern and impressionist collections, and the west wing, opening in December 2013.
Highlights of the new galleries include:
Pre-Columbian and Native North American Art
Comprised of over 850 objects and textiles from the major ancient cultures of Central America and Andean South America, the museum’s collection of Pre-Columbian art is one of the finest of its size in the United States. Its greatest strength is the art of the Mesoamerican classic period, particularly Maya works in stone, ceramic and shell as well as Veracruz ballgame sculptures. Highlights from the Andes include important textiles, such as a world-famous Nasca painted cloth, along with a group of gold ornaments in the Chavín style and a rare Chimú litter back-rest. Notable objects from the Isthmian Region include a group of gold ornaments excavated from Sitio Conte in Panama and several fine Costa Rican ceramics.
The Native North American collection, which numbers about 190 objects, focuses on baskets, most made around 1900, and Southwest art, principally ceramics and textiles from both ancient and modern periods. Holdings also include several fine Saltillo serapes.
Japanese and Korean Art
The museum has one of the preeminent collections of Japanese and Korean art in the United States. Each collection has its own dedicated gallery, with a connecting central gallery that features works from both collections, examining their artistic traditions around the theme of Buddhism. Highlights of the Japanese installation include the richly detailed screen, Arrival of the “Southern Barbarians” (about 1600); Flame-Style Storage Vessel (2,500 BC), which is taller than most of the known surviving examples; and a stunning Buddhist Tabernacle (late 1100s) created to house nearly 300 sutras (religious scrolls). The Korean gallery features Arhat (Nahan) (1235), a hanging scroll that is one of only ten known fragments that survive today and the only one outside of Japan and Korea; a rare Storage Jar: Buncheong Ware (1400s); and The Seven Jeweled Peaks: Chilbo Mountains (1700s), a stunning true-view landscape painting.
The establishment of the Korean gallery was made possible by the support of the Korea Foundation.
The internationally renowned textile collection contains approximately 4,500 textiles from 62 countries made between 2000 BC and 2010 AD. Particular areas of strength include one of the finest collections of Islamic textiles and early lace in the world, as well as a strong focus in early Italian silks. The collection also has one of the largest collections of contemporary fiber art in the United States. The Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Gallery is the museum’s first dedicated gallery for textiles, and will showcase rotating exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition, Luxuriance: Silks from Islamic Lands, 1250-1900, celebrates the museum’s world-class collection of Islamic textiles.