Visitors to the museum will notice a change in the Asian art installation in the Roxanne P. and William Thams Gallery on the museum’s first floor. The footprint of the last installation had been up for several years with periodic rotations of the works on paper. Upon receipt of recent gifts, it became clear that the gallery installation would need to be reconsidered to allow for the installation of some wonderful new objects. I worked with Dr. Alan Atkinson, long-time FJJMA collaborator, to prepare the installation.
The Asian art installation has now been spatially expanded to reflect the scope of the museum’s collection representing the Pacific Rim. The small galleries on the exterior of the Thams gallery have been designated as an extension to expand that footprint. This has allowed us to install a striking 18th century wooden Buddha figure from Myanmar that was received as part of a gift from Mark Landrum.
In preparation for this installation, the museum staff consulted with OU faculty member Erik Braun, professor of Religious Studies, to learn about any sensitive display issues related to the display of an object with such a strong relationship to religious practices. To our delight, Professor Braun helped the staff identify guiding parameters for the artistic exhibition of Buddhist religious objects. That information has been documented and will continue to guide how our staff presents images of the Buddha.
While the museum’s collections have grown exponentially in other areas, the donation of Asian art made by Lew Wentz and Gordon Matzene in 1936 was the gift upon which the museum was founded. We continue to honor that gift, and those that have come since, by sharing the collection with thoughtfulness and cultural sensitivity to the materials. The Asian collection continues to be one of the museum’s larger collections.
James T. Bialac Assistant Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art
Horse, Tang Dynasty, 618-907
Molded and sculpted earthenware with lead fluxed yellow glaze, 19 in.
Gift of the Lon B. Turk Family, 1994
Shao Yinong and Mu Chen (China, Yinong: b. 1961; Chen: b. 1970)
The Assembly Hall (Wushizhong), 2003
Chromogenic print, 48 x 66 1/4 in.
Loan courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Harold and Ruth Newman, 2012