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Boston College McMullen Museum PresentsAsian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war AmericaFebruary 6–June 6, 2010

exclusive traveling venue of asia society museum exhibition:features outstanding works from renowned rockefeller collection

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (12-09) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College is the exclusive traveling venue for the acclaimed exhibition Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America (, which will be on display from February 6 through June 6, 2010. Organized by the Asia Society Museum in New York, where it debuted last February, it features some of the most outstanding works from the museum’s renowned permanent collection, The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection.

The exhibition examines the intersection of history, international relations, personal relationships and art collecting through a rich display of exceptional objects from Asia Society’s jewel-like permanent collection, according to exhibition organizers.

It explores the sociopolitical context for American collecting of Asian Art in the post–World War II period with a focus on the collecting practice of John D. Rockefeller 3rd
(JDR 3rd, 1906–1978, the son of collectors John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller), and his wife, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909–1992).

Asian Journeys; covered jar Covered Jar
China, Jiangxi Province
Ming period (1368–1644), Jiajing era (1522–1566)
Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.182a, b

From 1963 to 1978, they worked with legendary art historian Sherman E. Lee (1918–2008, a former director of the Cleveland Museum of Art) to assemble one of the most spectacular private collections of Asian art in the US, according to Asia Society publicity materials. A diplomat and founder of Asia Society, JDR 3rd played a leading role in fostering cultural understanding and cooperation between Asia and America; his focus on Asian art and selection of objects for his collection were tied directly to the politics of the world in which he lived. Through their support of Asian art and culture, the Rockefellers hoped they would have a direct impact on international relations.

“The McMullen is pleased to offer New Englanders the opportunity to view this group of Asian masterpieces,” says McMullen Museum Director and Professor of Art History Nancy Netzer. “Through the research and ingenuity of the exhibition’s curator, the works emerge in the exhibition as integral components of JDR 3rd’s plan to forge new diplomatic relationships between the US and Asia following World War II. The McMullen is equally privileged to place JDR 3rd’s undertaking within the context of the earlier history of Rockefeller acquisitions of Asian art by displaying original photographs of their installations by artist Mary Louise Pierson.”

“Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Dr. Sherman E. Lee and the extraordinary times they lived in provide us with intriguing subject matter for a study of the symbiotic connections between international politics, art collecting, and art history,” according to Adriana Proser, Asia Society’s John H. Foster Curator for Traditional Asian Art, who curated the exhibition with Asia Society Museum Getty Fellows Jacqueline Ganem and Daisy Yiyou Wang.

“This exhibition features a selection of some of the most outstanding pieces from Asia Society Museum’s renowned Rockefeller Collection, each of which has the power to deeply move the viewer on a purely visceral level,” she adds. “I hope visitors will be impressed with the aesthetic prowess of the artist who created the works, but will also be challenged to think about the role of American and Asian international relations in the history of art collecting and the understanding of Asian art history in the United States.”

Public Opening Celebration: Monday February 8, 7-9 p.m.
On Feb. 8, the public is invited to join BC community members at a free opening celebration at the Museum from 7 to 9 p.m., featuring music from the 1950s and ’60s performed by University jazz ensemble BC bOp! Location: Devlin Hall 108. For information please call 617.552.8587. A black-tie opening for invited guests also will be hosted by the McMullen Museum and its Patrons.

Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America
The exhibition presents 56 works of art from Asian cultures, ranging from the late 6th century CE to the early 19th century CE, and features monumental sculpture and ceramic works from China, Japan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Tibet. On display:
archival material from the Rockefeller Archive in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and original photography by Mary Louise Pierson, granddaughter of Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908–1979), featuring interiors of Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in the Hudson Valley, and views of the Eyrie Asian garden in Seal Harbor, Me.

Bodhisattva Maitreya Bodhisattva Maitreya
Thailand, Buriram Province, Prasat Hin Khao Plai Bat II
8th century
Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.63

Exhibition Sections   
Introduction: Attributes JDR 3rd’s interest in Asian art to his experience growing up surrounded by his parents’ collection of Asian art, and working on US-Asia political relations after World War II. His desire to foster cultural understanding between the United States and Asia influenced his acquisition decisions. Identifies Lee’s integral role in building the collection.

Section One: The Advisor: Sherman E. Lee and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd: Defines Lee’s influence as an advisor to the Rockefellers, helping them develop a collecting philosophy and assemble one of the most spectacular private collections of Asian art in the United States. Identifies the integral role the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection plays at Asia Society in fostering its mission of promoting understanding among people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. Section features four premier objects in the collection that exemplify the range and quality of the works Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd collected with Lee’s advice.
Section Two: Cultural Diplomacy in Japan and Japanese Taste: Focuses on the work of JDR 3rd and Lee in Japan during the post-war years. Working in the Arts and Monuments Division under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Lee inventoried major Japanese collections of art throughout the country and formed relationships with a number of influential Japanese art historians and art dealers from whom he purchased objects for American collections. Serving as president of Japan Society, JDR 3rd promoted the loan of exhibitions from Japan to the United States. Section displays a variety of Japanese ceramic objects, a wooden bodhisattva, and other works acquired by Japanese collectors.

Section Three: Chinese Civil Strife and the International Art Market: Places Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s acquisitions of Chinese ceramics within the larger collecting patterns of Chinese art in the United States. JDR 3rd and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller focused their efforts on finding great Chinese ceramics, acquiring works from China’s most illustrious production periods, including the Song, Ming, and Qing periods. In contrast to many earlier American collectors, the Rockefellers chose works suggestive of the influence of traditional Chinese and Japanese connoisseurship and taste. Section presents a range of Chinese ceramic forms.

Section Four: The Rise of South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art Collecting: Explores Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s acquisitions of South Asian art within the context of the rising interest of American collectors in works of this region. JDR 3rd’s interests in collecting and promoting the art and culture of this region were an extension of his commitment to solving Asia’s profound problems related to population growth and agricultural development. Section displays monumental sculpture of the region.

Section Five: Legacy: Places Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s collection within the context of the earlier Rockefeller acquisitions of Asian art. Photographs from the Rockefeller archives feature family members in Asia as well as their homes and offices decorated with Asian collections. Photographs by artist Mary Louise Pierson, granddaughter of Nelson Rockefeller, depict original installations of the family’s Asian art collections at two Rockefeller estates.

McMullen Museum Installation
Installation by McMullen Museum exhibition designer Diana Larsen; text design by McMullen graphic designer John McCoy. Labels and wall texts written by Proser with Ganem and Wang. Works by Mary Louise Pierson in the presentation selected by Larsen.

Accompanying Programming (details/updated information at Lectures: Thurs., February 4, 2010, 7:30-9 p.m.: Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO, Asia Society, New York. [Title: The Asia Society, New York: John D. Rockefeller 3rd’s Vision to integrate, culture, commerce, and current affairs.] Location: Devlin Hall 101; event sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series and the Institute for the Liberal Arts; admission: free; for information please call 617.552.8587.

Wed., April 7, 2010, 4:30-6 p.m.: James Hevia; professor, International History of the New Collegiate Division; director, International Studies Program; University of Chicago.
[Title: Whose Art is it Anyway? The Continuing Saga of Summer Palace Loot] Location: Devlin Hall 101; event sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series and the Institute for the Liberal Arts; admission: free; for information please call 617.552.8587.

Mon., April 26, 2010, 4:30-6 p.m.: Lecture by Andy Rotman, associate professor of Religion, Smith College. Location: Devlin Hall 101; event sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series and the Institute for the Liberal Arts; admission: free; for information please call 617.552.8587.

Exhibition Sponsors/Support
Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America was organized by the Asia Society, New York. Presentation at the McMullen Museum has been underwritten by Boston College and the Patrons of the Museum. In conjunction with the presentation, the book A Passion for Asia: The Rockefeller Legacy (Asia Society: Hudson Hills, NY, 2006) will be available for purchase.

McMullen Museum of Art
The McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary exhibitions that ask new questions and break new ground in the display and scholarship of the works on view. It serves as a dynamic educational resource for all of New England as well as the national and international community. The Museum mounts exhibitions of international scholarly importance from all periods and cultures of the history of art. In keeping with the University’s central teaching mission, the Museum’s exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related public programs. The McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 by the late Boston College benefactor, trustee and art collector John J. McMullen and his wife, Jacqueline McMullen.

Asia Society
Asia Society Museum organizes exhibitions of both traditional and contemporary art and showcases masterpieces from its permanent collection, the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. The Rockefeller Collection contains objects from cultures ranging from Pakistan to Japan and Java, from 1000 BCE to the 19th century, with strengths in Chinese ceramics of the Song and Ming periods, Chola-period Indian bronzes and Southeast Asian sculptures. Through exhibitions and related public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art.

Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit nonpartisan educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai and Washington, D.C. For more information visit

McMullen Museum Hours and Tours
Admission is free; handicapped accessible and open to the public. Located in Devlin Hall on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus, 140 Commonwealth Avenue. Hours during this exhibition: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Extended hours: Sat., May 22 and Sun., May 23: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Mon., May 24: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Fri., June 4, Sat., June 5 and Sun., June 6: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The Museum will be closed on: Fri., April 2; Sun. April 4; Mon., April 19; Mon., May 31. Free group tours: Sundays at 2 p.m., Feb. 14 through June 6. Tours also may be arranged upon request by calling 617.552.8587. For directions, parking and information on public programs, visit or call 617.552.8100.


A slideshow of images and more exhibition details are available at
Public information: 617.552.8100. For jpg/tiff images requests contact Margaret Neeley at 617.552.4676 or

--Media Contact (not for publication), Nancy Netzer, McMullen Museum Director, 617.552.8587 or