The Institute's collection of Asian art represents seventeen Asian cultures spanning over 5,000 years.
The Department of Asian Arts has benefited greatly from generous gifts from knowledgeable collectors. Augustus L. Searle, Alfred F. Pillsbury, Richard P. Gale, Louis W. Hill, Jr., and Ruth and Bruce Dayton have donated specialized collections of international reputation, including ancient Chinese bronzes, ancient and post-Sung jade, Chinese monochrome ceramics, Ukiyo-e paintings, Japanese prints, and classical Chinese furniture.
In addition, highly regarded specialized collections of Ch'ing dynasty silk textiles, Miao textiles, and surimono prints have been built over the years.
The curatorial department's goal is to provide the public with a broad overview of Asian art. In 1998 the museum presented new Indian, Islamic, Himalayan, Southeast Asian, and Korean permanent collections, as well as an original reception hall from the late Ming dynasty and an 18th-century Suchou-area library.
The renowned collections of 17th- and 18th-century Chinese furniture, literati objects, and paintings have been acquired through the extraordinary gener osity of Ruth and Bruce Dayton. While building these focused collections, the Daytons have strategically added important gifts of sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, gold, calligraphy, and Nanga painting.
In 2001, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts unveiled two historically based Japanese rooms: a formal audience hall (shoin) and a teahouse (chashitsu). Both structures are highly visible installations within the permanent galleries of Japanese art and serve to heighten awareness of the relationship between Japanese art and architecture. The rooms also address divergent aesthetic trends that arose during the 16th century in Japan: one that reflected the flamboyant tastes of Japan's warrior rulers, and the other that suggests the tea masters' admiration for the humble, simple, and rustic.