Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art Reopens at the V&A
The Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art opened in 1986. It was designed to showcase highlights of the V&A’s internationally important collection of Japanese art and design, and led the way for museum exhibitions to receive corporate sponsorship. It reopens on Wednesday 4th November 2015 following refurbishment and a renewal of sponsorship from Toshiba, who will continue to support the permanent exhibition for the next decade.
Thirty recent acquisitions are amongst the 550 works on show. Textiles feature in several of the restored display cases under the themes of samurai, theatre and performance, fashionable dress, folk craft and modern and contemporary, thus demonstrating the great variety of accomplished decorative textile techniques that have been developed in Japan and assimilated into its cultural practices.
Two rich golden ceremonial Buddhist kesa robes of figured silk demonstrate the act of stitching patchwork as a devotional pursuit. One is made up of fabric from the costumes of a Nō theatre troupe, woven 1580 – 1620. A Meisen kimono features with a variety of other types from the 19th and 20th centuries and Edo-period ceremonial armour. A dynamic 19th-century futon cover, likely from a bride’s trousseau, and two contemporary pieces by Matsubara Yoshichi and Fukumoto Shihoko represent the art of indigo dyeing. New short videos are also on show, including two demonstrating how to put on a kimono and how to dress in a suit of armour with illustrations from a 19th-century edition of ‘The Illustrated Essential Horseman’ by Murai Masahiro (active 1729 – 54).
Martin Roth, director of the V&A, said of the reopening: “In the many years since the V&A made its first Japanese acquisition, the collection of Japanese art at the V&A has developed into one of the most significant in the world. The fascination for Japanese culture, both historic and contemporary, is as strong today as it was in the late 19th century… The Museum continues to develop its relationship with Japan and we hope the refurbished gallery will bring the rich artistic heritage and contemporary culture of the country to new audiences.”