Archive for 'Registration'

Goodbye, Terracotta Warriors


Jennifer with the truck that took the warriors away.

We’re all going to miss those wonderful Terracotta Warriors. But after their stay at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for several months, and then here at the Asian for 13 weeks, the warriors are finally on their way back to Xi’an, China.

Packing up the entire exhibition was a formidable job, as you can imagine, but we got it done in just four days — a minor miracle. We could never have accomplished this huge undertaking without the help of so many people working behind the scenes from the Preparation, Conservation and Registration departments.

We also had a team of three staff from Xi’an helping us pack the exhibition up–Messrs. Ma, Wang and Zhou–really nice guys who were very helpful in assisting us. Now that the warriors are in crates, registrars from Minneapolis Institute of Arts will travel on two separate flights with the crated exhibition objects. (Ship Art International, CASE Company and Exclusive Art Service have offered us excellent assistance as well.)


Packing objects into cases.

But now we’re getting the galleries ready for Larry Ellison’s wonderful Japanese collection. Of course, we’re looking forward to the shift into an entirely different exhibition. But I was the last to see the warriors as they drove away, and honestly, it was sad to see them go.


Sharon packing some of the treasures into a case.

Installing Calligraphy

Curators Michael and Joseph in front of the installation of Wen Peng's Thousand Character Essay

Curators Michael and Joseph in front of the installation of Wen Peng’s “Thousand Character Essay”. Photo courtesy of Jerry Yang.

Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy opens next week, and installation is in full swing. This is always a frantic, stressful, and exciting time for us, especially for the people at the coal face: curators, registrars, conservators and the preparations team.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to walk past one of the galleries while the team was installing. I felt compelled to press my face against the tinted glass doors to try to get a better look. Although unfinished, the display in the galleries is breathtaking. I must confess, I had trouble getting excited about an exhibition of calligraphy at first. But having seen the exhibition take shape over the past few months, I can’t wait for it to open. It’s going to be amazing.

Luckily for you, our photographer has been snapping some images of the installation, so you can have your own sneak peek on Flickr. Out of Character opens on October 5, but we’re kicking off with artist Xu Bing and collector Jerry Yang in conversation with museum director Jay Xu on October 4. See you there.




Installing “Deities in Stone” at San Francisco International Airport

Are you going on a fall sojourn through San Francisco International Airport anytime soon? If so, you may encounter some divine visitors from the Asian Art Museum. . Last week, museum staff oversaw the installation of Deities in Stone: Hindu Sculpture from Collections of the Asian Art Museum in the airport’s United Airlines terminal 3.

Parvati arrives curbside at San Francisco International Airport.

The latest in as series of collaborations between the Asian and SFO Museum, this exhibition features 32 Indian sculptures from the Avery Brundage Collection, many on view for the first time.

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Korean Objects Out on Loan

Sharon contemplating our Moon Jar in the National Museum of Korea's exhibition.

Sharon contemplating our Moon Jar in the National Museum of Korea's exhibition.

I just returned from delivering and overseeing the installation of 10 Asian Art Museum objects to an exhibition at the National Museum of Korea. The exhibition is called Korean Art from the United States and if you find yourself in Seoul between June 5 and August 5 you can see it for yourself.

Staff at the National Museum of Korea prepare our Standing Buddha for display.

Staff at the National Museum of Korea prepare our Standing Buddha for display.

The exhibition highlights the history and importance of Korean art collections in the United States and features Korean treasures  from museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Harvard Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Brooklyn Museum. For more, check out these reviews from The Korea Times and The Korea Herald.

Although we removed nine of our most precious Korean objects from display for this loan, including our Standing Buddha, the Moon Jar and Tiger jar, we have borrowed five objects from the collections of the National Museum of Korea to replace them. Come and see them soon in the Korean gallery.


The Art of Packaging Art

Yoshihiro Suda, Kasuga Deer Deity, Japan

Kasuga deer deity. Deer: Heian Period,pigment on wood; Monju Bosatsu: Kamakura period,pigment on wood; Negoro lacquer tray: Kamakura Period, the second year of Tokuji (1307), former collection of Sankei Hare; With: Sakaki plant and antlers, 2010. By Yoshihiro Suda, pigment on wood. H: 13 3/8 in x W: 16 1/2 in x D: 11 5/8 in. © Courtesy of Private Collection.

One of the most interesting things for the exhibitions team is discovering the way the objects from Phantoms of Asia have been packed. Since we have loans from so many different countries—over a dozen—all the packing was really different.

Yoshihiro Suda Sakaki tree in its box

I was impressed with the shipment from Japan which includes an object from a private collection, Kasuga Deer Deity. It is a collaborative work: some of the parts are as old as Heian Period (794-1185) and some are as new as 2010. One of the newer parts is a tiny reproduction,  made by the artist Yoshihiro Suda, of the sakaki plant (Cleyera japonica), which grows in East Asia. The sakaki is an evergreen that is considered sacred in the Shinto religion. This piece is extremely fragile and we were concerned that it might not be able to withstand the rigors of traveling from Japan.

Fortunately some of the best packing in the world comes from Japan, including this amazing little box designed to protect the tiny tree in transit.

Where is this Flower?

Yoshihiro Suda morning glory

Yoshihiro Suda, Morning Glory, 2010. Paint on wood.

The artist Yoshihiro Suda was here recently to help install his beautiful painted wooden flowers.  The flowers are stunning and actually look like they are real. The good news is that these flowers will last the entire length of the Phantoms of Asia exhibition.  It takes nearly a month to make just one of these incredible pieces.  Suda really enjoys challenging the viewer with his work so I challenge you to find this lovely morning glory in our galleries.

He also enjoys making leaves and weeds, some of which you can also find on display. He grew up working on his father’s farm and had to pull many weeds in his life, an activity which somehow inspired his art.

Yoshihiro Suda weeds

Yoshihiro Suda, Weeds, 2008. Paint on wood.

Suda told me a funny story of placing some of these weeds in another gallery setting: they were displayed out in the open, and to his horror when he returned the next day he discovered that the cleaning crew had thrown them away overnight. Thankfully our stellar staff are not likely to make such a mistake.


Jagannath Panda: Not Just Paint


Cristina and Katie with Jagannath Panda's The Cult of Appearance III

There are some very diverse contemporary pieces in the Phantoms of Asia exhibition. There is one that I especially like, The Cult of Appearance III, by South Asian artist Jagannath Panda. It is in two sections and the interesting thing—especially from the perspective of our exhibitions team installing the works—is that there are some separate elements that get attached to the painting.

Above is a photo of Assistant Registrar Cristina Lichauco helping our Head of Conservation Katie Holbrow during the installation. Katie is attaching a fabric and ribbon laden element to the piece.

One of the exciting things about contemporary art is that its meaning has not been fixed by scholarship. I cannot tell you that much about the painting or the artist’s intentions, but if you read his bio on our website it might give you more insight. You can also join us this Thursday night, May 17, for an after-hours preview of the exhibition and decide for yourself what it all means.

Phantoms of Asia: Art Everywhere

We’ve wrapped up week two of the Phantoms of Asia installation (read about week one here) and a crazy week it has been. Because this exhibition encompasses the entire museum, the install team has had the challenge of juggling simultaneous installation in several galleries at once.

Phantoms of Asia Curator Mami Kataoka surveys "Mountain Gods" (2011) by Aki Kondo, being installed in the Tateuchi Thematic Gallery.

Tateuchi gallery was the first major transformation. The brilliantly colored walls of Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches have given way to a contemporary white space exploring the theme of sacred mountains.

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Phantoms of Asia: Installation in Progress

The first week of an exhibition install is always a magical week. As we begin to unpack and examine the artwork up close, we are continually reminded that catalog photographs are no substitute for the real thing.

Museum Conservator Katie Holbrow examines "Absence of God VII" (2008) by Raqib Shaw.

For Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, the first week of installation has concentrated on incorporating contemporary artwork into the second and third floor galleries.

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Art in a Box

Our upcoming show Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past is presenting us with all kinds of unexpected delights. Assistant Registrar Cristina Lichauco sent me this image of one of Singapore artist Heman Chong’s works that will appear in the show. Well, not exactly. It’s a box of stickers, actually; the raw material of the work. Chong will be applying them directly to the gallery wall to create Star(burst).

Box of stickers for Star(burst), Heman Chong, 2012.

This box of stickers, seen here in our registrars' office, will be used to create Heman Chong's Star(burst).

Cristina is also expecting 8,500 sticky dots from London, which will be used to hang Chong’s Calendars (2020–2096). The piece itself is coming from Singapore. As Cristina says, this truly is an international effort.

We’re incredibly excited that we will be welcoming artists like Heman Chong to the museum to install their work in the coming months, and seeing our galleries transformed with new materials and unique installations. How do you feel about art using everyday materials like self-adhesive stickers? We’d love to hear your thoughts.