The Curator’s Farewell Exhibition: Cool Stuff from the Museum’s Collection

Ancient Plum

artist unknown

ink on paper

signature: Jūryushu; seals: unread

Edo Period, probably late 18th century

museum purchase funded by the Morikami Wisdom Ring membership circle and Mr. and Mrs. Walter May


“Wow! This painting just does things to me. To think that it was painted over 200 years ago is just astounding, given the unbridled freedom of its dynamic brushwork. It is a depiction of an ancient plum tree, but treated in an abstract fashion more in keeping with contemporary art than art that is a couple of centuries old. I can’t help but find the painting amazing and totally captivating. What I respond to is the movement of the brush in such a spontaneous and fluid manner, the brush itself pliable and soft-bristled, heavily laden with wet, light and dark washes creating sensuous forms on the paper.”

February 12 – May 19, 2013

Morikami Museum senior curator Tom Gregersen will be retiring soon after a 35-year career of service to the museum-going public of South Florida. Before he says “Sayonara,” however, he would like to share some favorite objects from the museum’s treasure vault with the audience that has graciously supported his efforts over the decades. From art to unusual objects of everyday living, this exhibition will explore the meaning of each object and what it has to say to Gregersen about Japan, while presenting the personal stories of adventure and triumph that lie behind them all.
Click here to read the Palm Beach Post article on Tom and this, his last exhibit.[hr]

A Message from Tom Gregersen

Six months after the museum opened to the public in June of 1977, I began my employment at Morikami. That was thirty-five years ago, and I have watched the museum’s growth, and that of its collection, ever since. Hopefully, I also have played a positive role in that growth and leave Morikami now with a legacy of excellence, dedication and service.

Through most of my years of employment, I have been involved with exhibitions and collections development, bringing to the public what I hope have been lively, compelling glimpses of Japanese culture and providing the basis for such to continue long after I am gone. Judging from the comments I have received over the years I have succeeded in such endeavors more often than not. I want to thank you, the museum’s members and visitors, for your encouragement to me and the rest of the museum’s staff in providing what we hope have been satisfying opportunities for enrichment and entertainment.

I especially want to thank the donors and funders whose generosity and regard for Morikami have made the growth of the museum’s collection possible. While I have served merely as guide and counselor, they have provided the resources for purchasing new acquisition and have donated the objects themselves that have shaped the museum’s collection into the tremendous public resource that it has become.

This exhibition offers a good selection of “cool stuff”—Japanese artifacts and works of art—that comprise the Morikami Museum’s collection, which focuses on objects of daily living from the Edo Period (1600 – 1868) to the present. By “objects of daily living” we mean articles that have played a role in the domestic lives of Japanese rather than articles made for export abroad that reflect foreign taste, although the museum has accepted such objects if they also can be related to Japanese values, beliefs, and customs. The term “objects of daily living” also includes art. We chose the Edo Period because it represents the traditional culture that Japan was beginning to leave behind when settlers of the Yamato Colony journeyed to Florida in the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) that followed Edo. That being said, the Morikami Museum also acquires iconic objects that represent or serve to interpret all eras of Japanese history broadly, recognizing public expectations of a museum of Japanese culture.

The articles that are on display in this exhibition are personal selections from the collection. In one way or another, they possess a special attraction or connotation for me personally, whether they delight me, surprise me, or cause me to wonder. Many of them I had a role in selecting for acquisition by the museum, although many I did not. The acquisition of some I actually opposed, but now I am happy that we accepted them despite initial misgivings. All have something interesting or compelling to say about Japanese customs and traditions. All reflect a society that is dynamic, design-conscious, and imaginative.

And that’s pretty cool.

Tom Gregersen
Senior Curator and Cultural Director
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Tom Gregersen © photo courtesy of pbpulse
Tom Gregersen © photo courtesy of pbpulse

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