Baltimore, MD—The Walters Art Museum will present a landmark installation of its Asian and Islamic collections that offers new ways to examine and experience Asian art. For the first time at the Walters, visitors can view approximately 500 artworks from across the Asian continent together in a contiguous space, including art from Islamic cultures spanning West to South Asia. This installation is the culmination of years of work by Walters curators to expand the connectivity of the Asian and Islamic art collections and will feature visitor favorites as well as works which have previously never been on view.
“For the first time at the Walters, the core collections of Asian and Islamic arts are being brought together to tell a compelling array of stories in the galleries. Spanning the continent of Asia, from Japan in the East to Anatolia in the West, and continuing through Persian cultures, and Ottoman lands, this installation highlights the connections and exchanges among art, cultures, religions, and ideas across the vast geography of Asia and beyond,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “We want visitors who identify with or whose heritage is rooted in the cultures of the Asian continent to be able to see themselves, their beliefs, and their cultures represented in the galleries while also demonstrating the astonishing breadth and variety of Asian and Islamic cultures and their artistic production. For audiences without prior knowledge or experience with these cultures, this installation will make connections to perhaps previously unknown or misunderstood peoples and places.”
Visitors will encounter historical examples of architecture, calligraphy, ceramics, cloisonné, lacquerware, manuscripts, metalwork, painting, sculpture, and textiles. The installation also includes a 19th-century Buddhist pulpit (thammat) from Thailand, one of the only known Thai pulpits in a U.S. museum, on view for the first time. The Walters collection of Asian art comprises about 9,000 objects and encompasses works spanning 2,000 years of artistic traditions from diverse cultures and regions, most notably Japan, Korea, China, India, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. The collection of Islamic art, comprising some 1,200 objects, is one of the richest in the United States, with particular strengths in Persian, Turkish, and Mediterranean cultures as well as Islamic South Asia.
The installation is led by Adriana Proser, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Quincy Scott Curator of Asian Art; Dany Chan, Associate Curator of Asian Art; and Ashley Dimmig, Wieler-Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Islamic Art. The book Across Borders: Movement and Mobility in the Arts of East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and the Islamic World, edited by Proser, with essays by Chan, Dimmig, and Proser will be published in conjunction with the opening as the first in an innovative new series of Walters collection-focused publications.
“The new galleries will focus on the artistic and cultural interactions across time and place that make these collections so rich,” Proser said. “The reinstallation explores themes that are both culturally-specific and universal to the human experience, including devotional practice, consumable goods, the natural world, and innovation. We are presenting a fuller and more complex view of these collections to engage our audiences.”
In the meantime, and also after the opening of the newly renovated galleries, visitors can continue to see other renowned works of art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in The John and Berthe Ford Gallery.
The new installation will take over the entirety of the fourth floor in the Walters’ Centre Street building. To prepare for this extensive renovation of the galleries and the installation, the fourth floor will be closed starting March 2. Works from the 19th-century collection, displayed on the fourth floor for the last 20 years, will be temporarily relocated to the first floor of the Centre Street building and other locations around the museum starting summer 2022, ahead of a major reinstallation of European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts. The Walters expanded history, which addresses and examines William and Henry Walters support of the Confederacy and their Eurocentric collecting, will be present in the Sculpture Court of the Palazzo Building, as well as accessible for all online.
ABOUT THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM
The Walters Art Museum is a cultural hub in the heart of Baltimore, located in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The museum’s collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses 36,000 objects from around the world. Walking through the museum’s historic buildings, visitors encounter a stunning panorama of thousands of years of art, from romantic 19th-century images of French gardens to mesmerizing Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient roman sarcophagi, and serene images of the Buddha. Since its founding, the Walters’ mission has been to bring art and people together to create a place where people of every background can be touched by art. As part of this commitment, admission to the museum and special exhibitions is always free.
Admission to the museum and Time and Place is free. The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles St., north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general museum information, call 410-547-9000 or visit thewalters.org.
Free admission to the Walters Art Museum is made possible through the combined generosity of individual members and donors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.
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