Columbia University has announced a $13 million gift from the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation to establish a center for East Asian Buddhist art history and endow a chair in the university's department of art history and archaeology.
The Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art will work to advance the understanding of the art and culture of Japan by supporting continued inquiry into relevant issues. The foundation's gift will fund the center's programs in perpetuity and provide support for graduate and dissertation fellowships, pre-doctoral research grants, publication subsidies, conferences and symposia, and postdoctoral global core fellowships in Japanese and other East Asian art fields. In addition, the funds will endow the Mary Griggs Burke Professorship of East Asian Buddhist Art History to ensure teaching and research in the field at the highest level.
Mrs. Burke (née Mary Livingston Griggs) grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, earned a master's degree at Columbia in 1943, and died in 2012. During her life, she supported generations of Columbia graduate students in Japanese and East Asian art studies and sponsored annual weekend visits to her Long Island home, where students could examine her collection closely, as well as trips to view exhibitions of Japanese art nationally as well as research opportunities in Japan.
"Mrs. Burke had a few major passions, Japanese art being, perhaps, the most important and long-lasting," said Matthew P. McKelway, the Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Professor of Japanese Art History and the inaugural Burke Center director. "By the time I first met her, in 1990 when I was a graduate student in art history at Columbia, she already possessed the greatest private collection of Japanese art in the world. Her legacy has been one of tremendous impact and consequence for the study of Japanese art history at the University. She was steadfast in her support of scholarly research and teaching in the field."