Ed Note: Save the Date – Media Preview Friday, Nov. 3, 10 a.m.
September 25, 2017 (Detroit)—The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will open its newly installed gallery of Japanese art on Saturday, Nov. 4. Traditional masterpieces will be displayed alongside contemporary objects to explore the complementary qualities of stillness and movement inherent in many Japanese artworks. Visitors are invited to imagine the objects in their original contexts and spaces, such as tea rooms, Buddhist temples and domestic rooms.
A thought-provoking pairing of objects greets visitors as they enter the gallery: a 17th-century samurai helmet with a clamshell decoration affixed on top; and Creature, a recent ceramic sculpture by contemporary artist Tomoko Konno. While visually very different, each piece illustrates the concepts of stillness and movement through their exploration of water-related imagery and symbolism.
Digital components in the gallery help bring the objects to life and provide additional context. The section exploring tea includes various tea wares, such as cups and pots, and also features an interactive tea table, created in collaboration with the digital design firm Tellart. Visitors can sit around a touchscreen table, where a digital tea host guides them through an experience that includes handling a 3-D printed tea bowl. In the Noh Theater area, in addition to the exquisite robes and masks on view, the DIA partnered with the Kanze Kyukokai Theater in Tokyo to produce a short film that features a Noh performance with a mask similar to the one in the DIA’s collection.
Artworks throughout the gallery—including robes from Noh Theater, folding screens, and works on paper—will change seasonally every four to six months to protect light-sensitive materials and to share more treasures from the DIA’s collection with the public.
The DIA began planning the gallery in 2015 and worked with Dr. Natsu Oyobe, curator of Asian art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art and a specialist in Japanese art. To further ensure an engaging presentation of the artworks, the DIA also consulted with community members with an interest and background in Japanese culture. The Japanese Business Society of Detroit (JBSD), which was a generous contributor to the DIA’s Grand Bargain commitment, provided financial support for the gallery and is bringing in performers and master artists from Japan as part of an opening weekend celebration on Nov. 4 and 5.
“The financial support from JBSD and input from our community consultants have been invaluable,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “The ideas we present in the new gallery will connect with people of every background and bring the beauty and significance of Japanese artistic and cultural practices to all visitors.”
The Japanese gallery is the first of the museum’s Asian galleries to be reinstalled. The DIA will temporarily close the new gallery from May to November 2018 in order to install the remaining Asian art galleries.
Museum Hours and Admission
9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for college students, $6 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.