On 21 January 2022, the Brooklyn Museum will open a new gallery devoted to the Arts of Buddhism collection. Organized by Joan Cummings, the museum’s senior curator of Asian Art, the project is the newest in a series of galleries centered around the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World collections.
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “the Arts of Buddhism gallery serves as an introduction to the tenets and history of the Buddhist religion.” Comprised of sculptural depictions of key Buddhist figures, as well as a selection of paintings and ritual tools and ornaments, the collection will feature almost seventy objects from fourteen countries, spanning from the second century C.E to the early 2000’s.
“We are excited to bring out some of Brooklyn’s great treasures in this gallery, and we’re excited to show them in a new way,” Cummins told ARTnews. “Instead of dividing things up by region or setting them up chronologically, we are juxtaposing Buddhas from India, Thailand, and Japan—and bodhisattvas from Indonesia, Korea, and China—made hundreds of years apart. In some cases the similarities are obvious; in others one has to look carefully to see what the images have in common. And careful looking will reveal some absolutely brilliant artistry because the museum has really deep and important holdings of Buddhist art.” (ARTnews)
The Arts of Buddhism gallery will be joining the series of galleries for Arts of Asia and the Islamic World, which is located on the second floor of the museum. As part of the gallery’s inauguration, a pair of 14th century Japanese mandala paintings will be on view for the first time in twenty-five years. Other freshly exhibited artifacts will include “a rare eighth-century image of the goddess Tara from Odisha, India; a Chinese silver reliquary dedicated by a Buddhist monk and his mother; and a gilt-bronze seated Buddha from southern China.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
In addition to showcasing the museum’s existing Buddhist artwork in a novel way, the installation will also feature nineteen pieces that are completely new to the museum’s collection.
Standing on land that is part of the unceded, ancestral homeland of the Lenape people, the Brooklyn Museum is located in what is now the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Best known for its large collection of Egyptian and African artifacts, it aims to showcase the artistic heritage of world cultures by acknowledging multiple historical perspectives. According to its website:
We promote perspectives that expand the stories we tell and engage diverse audiences in conversations that broaden the way we see ourselves, the world and its possibilities. The Museum should be a place where people see themselves with dignity and each other with empathy, care, and respect. As a public, civic institution, we believe it is our mandate to contribute to the advancement of society with a commitment to true connectedness and diversity. Central to this belief is our commitment to exploring, understanding, and appreciating our differences, while acknowledging how structural inequities and systems of oppression impact our work. (Brooklyn Museum)
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