The Walters Art Museum

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Robert Mintz

Chief Curator Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Quincy Scott Curator of Asian Art

Robert Mintz (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2002) is Chief Curator and Curator of Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum. His interest in the arts emerged while a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and his fascination with Asia began while studying at the University of Michigan during the 1980s. His doctoral research done through the University of Washington explored the paintings of the eighteenth-century Japanese poet and painter Yosa Buson.

Since completing this work, Rob has explored topics ranging from Japanese medieval narrative paintings and Chinese legends to contemporary institutional architecture and the post-pop avant-garde in Asia. His most recent book-length publication, Japanese Cloisonné Enamels (2009) accompanies a 2010 exhibition of the same name. Today his research focuses on issues arising from the interrelationship of Chinese and Japanese works of art with an emphasis on products of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

During his six years at the Walters, Rob has curated at least one small-scale focus exhibition or large scale exhibition annually and has written regularly on works within the Walters Asian collections for journals and broad distribution publications.  His next major project will be an exhibition in 2014 that brings together the history of Japanese flower arranging, ikebana, and a collection of contemporary Japanese ceramic vessels to celebrate Japan's much loved contribution to our collective appreciation of the beauty inherent in floral design.

In addition to his museum work, Rob has held positions over the last decade as visiting professor of art history at Central Washington University, gallery director and lecturer in Asian art history at Seattle University and visiting professor of Japanese art history at the University of Washington. He currently teaches courses in the history of Chinese and Japanese art on an adjunct basis for Towson University and for the Johns Hopkins University and lecture regularly for the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC.

Ongoing and Recent Departmental Projects

Southeast Asian Painting Digitization Project

Through the creation of an online database of images with descriptive metadata, Mellon Curatorial Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Rebecca Hall is creating a tool to facilitate the public’s engagement with and study of the Walters’ extensive collection of paintings from Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma. Due to the fragile nature of these works, they are rarely if ever presented for public display.  By cataloging these works and identifying their imagery, state of preservation, and other salient features, we will set a standard for documentation that will be applicable to other collections of similar paintings in museums throughout the west and in Southeast Asia.

Japanese Sword Furniture Digitization Project

This project, funded through a grant provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), photographed, cataloged, and documented the entire Walters collection of Japanese sword fittings. Through the work of the 2008-09 Bates Curatorial Fellow Dr. Hilary Snow, the vast majority of the collection was researched and documented by July 2009. Photographer Jennifer Pangraze captured images of all of the collection pieces and these have all been linked to research findings and are posted on the Walters Art Museum web site in a distinct "gallery" page entitled Japanese Arms and Armor. The project continues through ongoing refinements and the incorporation of new research information.

Japanese Enamels Catalog Project

Throughout 2008 and 2009 we focused on cataloging the collection of Japanese enamels of Baltimorean Stephen W. Fisher. This project produced a catalog, Japanese Cloisonné Enamels, published by the Walters Art Museum that accompanied a large scale exhibition of major pieces from the collection between February 14, 2010 and May 9, 2010. Study and documentation of the decorative enamels in this collection has supported and informed ongoing research into the later nineteenth-century Japanese materials that distinguish the Walters' collections.

Journal of the Walters Art Museum, vols. 64/65 (2006-2007)

Published to celebrate the tenure of Hiram W. Woodward, Jr. as curator of Asian art at the Walters Art Museum, this festschrift brings together eleven essays on the arts of Asia, ranging from studies of temple architecture and decoration (at Phimai, Bant?y Chm?r, Borobudur, Candi Mendut, Candi Plaosan, and Candi Jago), Thai sculpture and painting, Chinese, Japanese, and Anatolian ceramics.

The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand, Hiram W. Woodward Jr.

The sculpture of Thailand includes some of Asia's most beautiful and significant works, but it is among the least studied and the least understood area of Asian art. This lavishly illustrated, path-breaking book tells the story of this sculpture over a period of a thousand years (7th-18th century CE), based on studies of the most important and comprehensive collection outside of Thailand, including thermoluminescence, clay core, and petrographic analysis. Comparative illustrations, maps, a chronology, and glossary make this work an indispensable reference.