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Current Exhibitions

Falcons: Art of the Hunt

January 15–July 17, 2022
Swift, fierce, and loyal, falcons have been celebrated for millennia. In ancient Egypt, they were closely associated with Horus, the god of the heavens. By the early eighth century in Syria, falcons were being trained to become skillful hunters at the royal courts. The art of falconry soon spread across the rest of the Islamic world, to the Byzantine empire in the west, and to the east as far as China. It is still practiced in many societies today, especially in the Arab world.

Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan

March 5–July 24, 2022
This exhibition showcases the breadth of the museum’s medieval Zen collections, highlighting rare and striking works from Japan and China to illustrate the visual, spiritual, and philosophical power of Zen. Rooted in the culture of medieval Japan, the lessons of Zen have become an important part of contemporary American life, as applicable today as they were in premodern times.

Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain

April 30, 2022 - September 18, 2022
Revealing Krishna transports visitors to a sacred mountain in the floodplains of southern Cambodia. The exhibition showcases a monumental sculpture of the Hindu god Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan to protect his people from a torrential storm sent by an angry god. For the first time, the sculpture is explored in the context of its original environment, as part of a multi-religious landscape and quite literally built into a mountain. This larger than life-size sculpture is one of eight monumental deity figures recovered from cave temples on the two-peaked mountain of Phnom Da near the ancient metropolis of Angkor Borei. The exhibition tells the life story of this sculptural masterpiece—spanning 1,500 years and three continents—and unveils the newly restored Krishna in an exhibition that integrates art, immersive video installations, and interactive design.

The exhibition includes an original short film directed by renowned Cambodian American film maker praCh Ly. Titled Satook, a word of blessing spoken at the end of Cambodian prayers, the film examines the role of ancient sacred sites in present-day religious landscapes, and the transformation of religious traditions in Cambodian American diaspora communities.

 

Once Upon a Roof: Vanished Korean Architecture

May 21–October 30, 2022
Roof tiles made of fired clay are key elements of traditional Korean architecture. They not only protected wooden structures from the weather; they also carried aesthetic value and symbolic meaning. One special type of ornamented roof tile is the focus of this exhibition. Called chimi in Korea, these impressive features crowned both ends of the main roof ridge of prominent buildings. In addition to protecting and embellishing building peaks, they were believed to ward off evil.

While the ancient wood frame buildings they adorned are long gone, clay roof tiles, including chimi, have survived more than one thousand years. This exhibition features three chimi unearthed from the sites of two Buddhist temples and one palace complex dating to the Three Kingdoms (Baekje) and Unified Silla periods. Also included are round roof tile ends excavated at the same sites. Together, these artifacts reveal hidden stories of the ancient architecture of Korea. Most of these works have never been exhibited outside Korea.

Underdogs and Antiheroes: Japanese Prints from the Moskowitz Collection

March 19, 2022–January 29, 2023
Expect the unexpected. The exhibition Underdogs and Antiheroes: Japanese Prints from the Moskowitz Collection focuses on the captivating stories and urban legends of individuals living on the fringes of society in early modern Japan. Key subjects in theater, literature, and visual arts reveal antiheroes and underdogs whose virtues are often embodied by their rejection of societal norms, making them misfits and moral exemplars at the same time. The exhibition will follow virtuous bandits, tattooed firemen who love to fight, rogues from the kabuki theater, and others.

Highlighting the transformative gift of the Pearl and Seymour Moskowitz Collection to the National Museum of Asian Art, Underdogs and Antiheroes features subjects that are not commonly associated with traditional Japanese print culture but were nevertheless central to the interests of an early modern public. The exhibition will explore new visual and thematic ground, further strengthening the museum’s trailblazing role in reconsidering presentations of Asian cultures.

Prehistoric Spirals: Earthenware from Thailand

Ongoing
Red painted spirals swirl across the surfaces of these vessels, testifying to the sophisticated material and aesthetic cultures of northeastern Thailand more than two thousand years ago. Their makers belonged to a loose network of settlements specializing in bronze and ceramic production. Recent research into their materials, techniques, and designs opens new lines of inquiry into the region’s heritage and its profound cultural and material legacy.

The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

Ongoing through 2025
The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room includes more than two hundred bronzes, paintings, silk hangings, and carpets that were created in Tibet, China, and Mongolia between the thirteenth and early twentieth centuries. Arranged to reflect Tibetan Buddhist concepts and customs rather than museum conventions, the glittering room evokes the Himalayan portals that bridge the mundane and the sacred worlds.

The objects, assembled by collector Alice S. Kandell over many years, are placed on painted furniture, arranged among paintings and textiles, and presented without labels. With an aural dimension of chanting monks, this dynamic and densely layered display restores the relationships between Buddhist figures and viewers that are typically dissolved within museums.

Upcoming Events

Lectures and Programs

Miracle, Mountain, Museum: Curator Sonya Mace on Revealing Krishna

Live program, July 8, 5:30pm
The exhibition Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain, currently on view at the National Museum of Asian Art, transports visitors to a sacred mountain in the floodplains of southern Cambodia. The exhibition showcases a monumental sculpture of the Hindu god Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan to protect his people from a torrential storm sent by an angry god. Sonya Rhie Mace, the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, reveals in this illustrated lecture how provenance research and conservation over the last decade have led to new, awe-inspiring insights into the meaning and context of this monumental Cambodian masterpiece.
This talk is part of the event Afterhours @ NMAA: Summer Festival and offers a variety of activities.

Read more and register, click here

Ancient Korean Architecture in Context
Online webinar, July 26, 8:30-10:30am EDT
This webinar, inspired by the current exhibition Once Upon a Roof: Vanished Korean Architecture, examines recent research findings on ancient Korean architecture and ceramic roof tiles created more than one thousand years ago during the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla kingdoms. Although no buildings from these periods survive, archaeological surveys reveal the advent of distinct regional styles on the peninsula that contributed to the complex cultural exchanges taking place in East Asia from the fifth through the ninth centuries. The four featured scholars from Korea and the United States will place Korea's earliest wooden architectural traditions in a broader East Asian context. Special emphasis is placed on roof tiles— the subject of the current exhibition—and two speakers will address the original design and fabrication of a special type of ornamented roof tile, called chimi in Korean, that crowned both ends of the main roof ridge of prominent buildings. Using examples excavated at important historical sites, specialists will address their discovery and reconstruction.
Speakers include:
Nancy S. Steinhardt, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Lee Byongho, Gongju National University of Education, Gongju
Jeong Hyun, National Museum of Korea, Seoul
Hwang Hyun Sung, National Museum of Korea, Seoul

Read more and register, click here