The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California, will donate its entire collection of Japanese art, valued at $25 million, to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The gift will add nearly seventeen hundred objects — including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, woodblock prints, and bamboo baskets — spanning more than a thousand years to MIA's five thousand-piece collection of Japanese art. Under the agreement, the institute will produce exhibitions for the Clark Center for five years and will continue the center's fellowship program for scholars and interns. The museum also will acquire additional pieces from the center's founders, Libby and Bill Clark, through a $5 million "partial gift, partial purchase" arrangement, using funds from a special endowment for art purchases.
The gift will complement a promised bequest from New York-based collector Mary Griggs Burke, whose Japanese collection will be divided between MIA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The institute is expected to receive about five hundred pieces from Burke's collection, including early paintings, lacquerware, sculpture, and calligraphy dating from roughly 3000 B.C. to the mid-nineteenth century.
Bill Clark, founder and former CEO of World Wide Sires, became interested in Japanese art during tours of Japan while serving in the U.S. Navy and began collecting seriously in the 1970s. In 1995, the couple opened the single-gallery Clark Center and, as the collection outgrew the center, loaned art to other museums and organized traveling exhibitions. Clark decided to close the center, however, when it became apparent that neither he nor his children had the resources or desire to continue to operate it. According to the Star Tribune, Clark would have preferred to keep the collection on the West Coast, but it would have "overwhelmed" the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and would "just sit in storage" at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. MIA, on the other hand, had space, complementary collections, and a commitment to Japanese art that dates to its opening in 1915. "I think it's the perfect home for our collection," Clark said, "because they're going to continue our programs."