Asian Art

The Art Complex Museum is home to an outstanding collection of Asian art, encompassing ceramics, bronzes, brush paintings, prints, lacquerware and textiles. Much of its acquisition was influenced by Kojiro Tomita (1890-1976), Asian scholar and former longtime curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A good friend to museum co-founders, Carl A. Weyerhaeuser and Edith Greenleaf Weyerhaeuser, Tomita was an important influence to the museum’s development. The following partial essay, written by guest curator William Thrasher for the 1990 exhibition, A Tribute to Tomita, was included in the catalogue of the exhibition:

When viewed as a part of the overall permanent collection at The Art Complex Museum, the Asian holdings reflect the awakening of new artistic interests among members of an American family, the Carl Weyerhaeusers . . .

The museum’s largest holdings are in the arts of India, China and Japan, with smaller components from Korea, Southeast Asia and Tibet. The majority of the Asian objects has come to the museum in the form of four separate collections. The first large group, including most of the Chinese paintings, bronzes and ceramics, early Japanese ceramics and the majority of the contemporary Japanese prints, is from the private collection of museum founders Carl and Edith Weyerhaeuser. The second major area — a diverse collection of ethnic and fine art, craft, iconography and manuscripts, assembled by Dr. Leland Wyman (1897-1988) and his wife, Paula Wyman (b.1897) was acquired in 1968. Carl Weyerhaeuser assembled a third group of over two hundred and fifty pieces of twentieth-century Japanese ceramics in the early 1970s with the assistance of knowledgeable colleagues from the United States and Japan. The fourth is the result of the bequeathal of gifts throughout the museum’s history, from friends of the museum, with the largest bequest from Mr. and Mrs. Kojiro Tomita.

The Asian collection has continued to develop since the museum’s opening in 1971. The best known of the earlier acquisitions is Shofuan (Wind in Pines), the tea hut erected on museum grounds in 1975 and dedicated to the Tomitas in recognition of their efforts toward greater cultural understanding between the people of ]apan and America. A series of summer tea ceremonies is held at the tea hut each year.