Current Exhibitions

Nature, Tradition and Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection

February 17, 2018 – April 20, 2018 

Supporting Level Member Evening Preview February 15 @ 6pm | Exclusive Member Preview Day February 16

Featuring forty-three exceptional Japanese ceramic artists, this exhibition showcases ceramic objects of unsurpassed beauty made for everyday use. The fifty-five works chosen are closely associated with Japan’s historical pottery centers and reinterpret traditional methods in a modern context. The almost spiritual link between ceramic making and nature is poetically highlighted by eleven digital photographs taken by photographer Tajiro Ito. Organized by International Arts & Artists, this exhibition provides a dynamic survey of the diverse and innovative practices of creating ceramic wares in Japan – from exquisite flower vases and serene tea bowls to whimsical candle holders and robust platters – revealing the earthly beauty of Japanese ceramics.

Ambassadors of Friendship: Introducing Miss Gunma

February 17, 2018 – April 20, 2018

Supporting Level Member Evening Preview February 15 @ 6pm | Exclusive Member Preview Day February 16

n 1926, the Committee on World Friendship Among Children, founded by Rev. Sydney Gulick, established a doll exchange between the United States and Japan in an effort to overcome the deepening aggression and mistrust between the two countries. America sent over twelve thousand manufactured “Blue-eyed Dolls” to the children of Japan. In return, Japan sent fifty-eight hand-crafted, “Friendship Dolls” (Tōrei Ningyō, lit. Dolls of Gratitude), representing the prefectures, major cities, and territories of Japan. These incredible works of art embarked on diplomatic tours of goodwill throughout the U.S. Within a few years, most had settled in their permanent home, typically a museum.

Since then, a few Friendship Dolls ended up in private collections or mysteriously disappeared without a trace. During WWII, dolls on each side of the Pacific became the focus of the growing fear and hatred that divided the two countries. In Japan, Blue-eyed Dolls were first labeled as “spies” and “Friendship Dolls with masks” and then ordered to be surrendered or destroyed. In the U.S., many Friendship Dolls were hidden deep in storage and forgotten. It wasn’t until the 1970s that individual efforts began to slowly uncover the remaining dolls, helping to ensure that these tiny ambassadors would be able to continue their tours of duty.

In 2015, the trustees of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens launched a successful campaign to acquire Miss Gunma, one of the original Friendship Dolls. The Museum is honored to present Miss Gunma on public view for the first time in almost ninety years. She is a symbol of the cultural bridge that blossomed between the United States and Japan in the early 20th century and, then, was painstakingly reconstructed after the war. With her new permanent residence at the Morikami Museum, built on land donated by George Morikami, a Japanese immigrant himself, Miss Gunma will serve as a reminder of the power of forgiveness and lasting friendship.

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