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      Press Release

      PEM Receives Outstanding Collection of Modern Asian Photography

      Released February 18, 2020

      Major Gift of 1,600+ Works Transforms PEM’s Photography Holdings

      SALEM, MA — The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has gratefully accepted a transformational gift of more than 1,600 works of photography from the Joy of Giving Something (JGS) Foundation. The JGS Foundation, a nonprofit formed in 1998, is renowned for work that explores the intersection of photography and social issues, as well as its support for emerging artists and arts education. This gift of photographs features the work of 123 artists, primarily those of East Asian descent or working in East Asia, from 1930 to the present day. The addition of these exceptional 20th-century artworks to PEM’s already strong collection of 19th-century photography makes PEM one of the leading institutions for Asian photography in the U.S. and Europe.

      “We are so grateful for JGS’s extraordinary generosity in supporting PEM’s photography program,” said Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, PEM’s James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Deputy Director.

      PEM Receives Outstanding Collection of Modern Asian Photography

      Among the highlights of the gift are rare, early works such as an architectural study of the Bauhaus building in Dessau made by Iwao Yamawaki between 1930–1932, which complements a recent PEM acquisition of work by his wife and fellow Bauhaus artist, Michiko Yamawaki.

      These photographs deepen our museum’s 220-year relationship with East Asian culture and offer a compelling complement to our historic collection of Asian photography."

      Well-known Japanese artists are represented in a remarkable selection of postwar photography by Nobuyoshi Araki, Masahisa Fukase, Miyako Ishiuchi, Daido Moriyama, Toshiko Okanoue, Toshio Shibata, Issei Suda and Shomei Tomatsu.

      Standout works from more recent decades include conceptual photography from China by pioneers Hai Bo, Hong Hao, Hong Lei, Wang Qingsong and Liu Zheng. Edward Burtynsky’s Three Gorges Dam Project, Naoya Hatakeyama’s Blast series, and bodies of work by Lynn Davis, Xing Danwen and Zhang Dali interrogate the impact of human intervention on the environment. Other key figures in photography today include Atta Kim, Lynn Yamamoto, Tseng Kwong-Chi and An-My Lê, who each examine issues of identity and cultural inheritance in their work. Several iconic photographs by photojournalists Marc Riboud, H.S. Wong and Pulitzer Prize-winners Max Desfor and Huynh Cong Ut document the tumultuous history of Asia in the 20th century.

      Twenty-five percent of the photographers are female, including pathbreaking artists such as Tomoko Sawada, Yuki Onodera and Kunié Sugiura, providing rich material for an exciting, yet understudied field. The photographs are accompanied by a gift of 69 artists’ books, including works by Eikoh Hosoe and Daido Moriyama, which will enter PEM’s Phillips Library collection.

      The breadth and quality of this collection reflect the outlook of JGS founder, Howard Stein. With a keen eye, Stein began acquiring photographs in the 1980s, connecting with the most innovative practitioners of photography from around the world and supporting emerging artists with publication projects, scholarships, and related programs. Though Stein died in 2011, his creative legacy lives on and his photographs now join PEM's collection to form an extraordinary archive of global photography spanning 250 years.

      In 2022, PEM will open China Through the Lens, the first large-scale, traveling exhibition of 19th-century photography from China drawn from its remarkable collection. “The JGS gift opens up an entirely new realm of opportunities for dialogue between the past and present,” says Stephanie H. Tung, Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Research and co-curator of the exhibition with Karina Corrigan, PEM’s H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art. “We are committed to using our wealth of photography to showcase and explore different ways of seeing the world.”


      • Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao (Born 1977, Taiwan), 69th Street, Woodside (detail), From the series Habitat 7, 2004, color transparency. Gift of the Joy of Giving Something, Inc. © Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao 2019.4.
      • Boomoon (Born 1955, Korea), Stargazing at Sokcho #1, 2001, dye destruction print. Gift of the Joy of Giving Something, Inc. © BOOMOON 2019.45.

      Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS) is a New York based non profit organization dedicated to the photographic arts. Since its inception, works from the JGS collection have been made available as loans to major museums around the world. JGS has supported numerous emerging artists through awards, acquisitions and book projects. JGS is now focused on expanding access to visual arts education and supporting artists in photography and related media by providing scholarships and grants to museums, schools and community based organizations across the country.

      Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit

      Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | | 978-542-1828