Met, Minneapolis Institute of Arts Receive Endowments, Gifts of Art

Met, Minneapolis Institute of Arts Receive Endowments, Gifts of Art

Photo credit: Mary Griggs Burke Collection

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts have announced bequests of Japanese and Korean masterworks from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection in St. Paul.

From among over a thousand objects spanning five millennia — including more than eight hundred and fifty Japanese paintings, calligraphy, and woodblock prints, as well as smaller collections of Korean and Chinese works — the Met will receive three hundred and twenty pieces, while MIA will receive nearly seven hundred. The bequests also include endowments of $12.5 million each to be used for the purchase of Japanese art and for exhibitions, programming, and fellowships. In recognition of the gift, Andreas Marks, who heads MIA's Japanese and Korean Art Department, will be named the Mary Griggs Burke Curator of Japanese and Korean Art. Both museums will hold exhibitions of works from the bequests in the fall of 2015.

In 2006, Griggs Burke announced that she planned to bequeath her Japanese collection to the two museums. The Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation also announced that the Chinese works would be given to the Yale University Art Gallery, while select contemporary pieces would go to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida.

Griggs Burke, who died in 2012, was the granddaughter of two St. Paul civic leaders who made fortunes in lumber, railroads, and utilities. Inspired by a few pieces of Japanese art that her mother had acquired during a world tour in 1902, Griggs Burke, who studied painting in college, began collecting Japanese art in the 1950s. She served on the Met's board from 1976 through 1995, lent and donated works of art to the museum, and provided funds for acquisition and research.

"She was a consummate collector, trustee, and friend who selected these superb works with great care to complement and augment our existing holdings," said Metropolitan Museum director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell. "It is inconceivable that a collection comparable to hers could be assembled today. Given their rarity, aesthetic quality, and art historical importance, her gifts raise the level of the Met's Japanese collection to one of the finest and most comprehensive outside Japan."