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CMA opens new north wing galleries

7/18/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Shown is a Japanese Buddhism display on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Photo: David Brichford; courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has been remodeling and expanding for a number of years. One by one newly fashioned galleries have been opening and re-opening in some cases. This time it is the CMA’s north wing and the return of the Pre-Columbian, Native North American, Japanese, Korean and textile collections.

According to CMA Communications Manager Saeko Yamamoto, some of the 423 works being featured are being seen together for the first time because of the expanded space that allows for more of the collection to be on view. But more than that, during the eight-year hiatus that some of the works have been in storage, the museum has been collecting and purchasing more works in the genre.

As Yamamoto pointed out, visitors should look at the accession date that accompanies the identification panel associated with each work. They’ll see many that were acquired and processed by the museum within the past eight years.

In fact, in CMA’s description of the strong textile collection (CMA has approximately 4,500 works from 62 countries), the pieces on display currently had been created between 2000 B.C. and as recently as 2010 A.D. A walk through the textile gallery shows the sumptuousness of the materials that CMA is able to provide for its viewers to see.

At first it seemed curious to have Pre-Columbian and Native North American collections side-by-side with the Asian collections of Japan and Korea. A placard in the western hemisphere galleries kind of explains it all. It states the art works on display reveal the series of complex societies and cultures that existed in Pre-Columbian America, while making the comparison to similar time periods with the rise in Japanese and Korean cultures. They clearly go together in a cultural and artistic timeline.

The Pre-Columbian collection consists of 850 objects from central and Andean South America countries. One of the most fascinating groupings is of the Vera Cruz area ballgame sculptural works — indicating indeed a complex, highly developed society.

The Native North American collection holds about 190 objects, mostly basketry, ceramics and textiles from both ancient and modern periods.

The layout of the galleries is easy to navigate — and logically conceived — which makes it convenient to process the information and the visual elements as you walk along. As an example, a nice connecting genre linking the Japanese and Korean exhibits is the emphasis on Japanese Buddhist sculpture and renderings, since Korean ambassadors in another century introduced the concept into Japanese culture.

The museum, 11150 East Blvd., is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays. Admission is free. For more information visit www.clevelandart.org.


Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid art enthusiast. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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