Two years after opening its doors in 1915, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts purchased its first Asian object—a magnificent black marble statue of a bejeweled Kuan-yin from 6th-century China. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 9,500 objects representing seventeen cultures.
In 2005, with major funding from The Freeman Foundation, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts produced The Art of Asia—an online resource for museum visitors, teachers, students, and everyone interested in Asian art, culture, and history.
Highlights and features of this project include:
Explorations of major cross-cultural Asian themes: Buddhism, Architecture, and Ceramics
Access to thousands of object images with basic information and extended commentary, and the option to make personal selections and email them to others
Highlighted objects, featuring interviews with curators
Special sub-collections based on themes, time periods, and types
Historical and contemporary maps of major Asian countries and dynasties
A rich overview of Chinese dynasties and artistic production
Guides to Japanese and Korean historical periods
A comprehensive guide to early Chinese ceramics
Video and text treatments based on Japanese subjects: woodblock prints, architectural interiors, and Japanese Buddhism
An extensive feature on the creation and preservation of a Tibetan sand mandala
This project began as Arts of Japan in 1992 and was originally produced as an interactive video program. Major financial support for Arts of Japan was provided by the General Mills Foundation.
In 2001, Arts of Japan was incorporated into a larger project called Arts of Asia, which included Chinese and Tibetan subject matter as well.
Incorporating past material and adding new thematic content and additional features, The Art of Asia was created in 2005.
In 2009, a new content area devoted to Chinese Ethnic Minority Textiles was added with funding from a grant from the The Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.