PEM’s remarkably long relationship with Japan extends back more than 200 years. Encompassing everyday objects and the fine arts, the museum’s Japanese collection is distinguished for its range, from paintings and sculpture to decorative arts and costumes and textiles. Spanning northern Hokkaido to Okinawa in the south, and prehistoric periods to the present, these objects illuminate the varied artistic and cultural traditions of this country.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Edward Sylvester Morse, director of the Peabody Academy of Science (a precursor to PEM), became one of the first Western scholars to visit Japan after it opened to travelers. Morse was highly influential in encouraging American interest in Japanese art and culture, and helped create this remarkable Japanese collection.
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TOP IMAGE: Artist in Japan, Onna norimono (noblewoman’s palanquin), 19th century. Wood, lacquer, gilded brass, textile, paper, pigments, gold leaf, plant fiber. Peabody Essex Museum. E37812.