Jan 15 2016

Asia Society Museum Granted USD 2 Million to Start Mary Griggs Burke Fund

by Sylvia Tsai

Interior view of Asia Society and Museum, New York. Courtesy Asia Society. 

New York’s Asia Society Museum has started the new year off strong. On January 13, the 60-year-old institution announced a USD 2 million gift from the Minnesota-based philanthropic organization Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, named after the mother-daughter duo. The new endowment, The Mary Griggs Burke Fund, will be used to further the museum’s exhibition programming as well as education initiatives.

In a statement released by Asia Society, newly appointed museum director Tan Boon Hui says that he believes the Fund will provide “greater capacity to deepen the scholarly research that informs each of our exhibitions and stimulate greater innovative thinking in how we can present traditional, modern, and contemporary Asian art at the Asia Society Museum.”

The Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the museum’s exhibitions as both a lender and funder, having had a hand in exhibitions including “Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art” (2010), “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool” (2010–11) and “Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment” (1997–98), among others. Works from the collection of Mary Griggs Burke will be included in the museum’s upcoming exhibition, “Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan,” opening in February.

Esteemed for having one of the best private collections of Japanese art, which include roughly 1,000 objects from the prehistoric to contemporary periods, Mary Griggs Burke (1916–2012) was first introduced to Japanese art by her mother Mary Livingston Griggs. Burke made her first trip to Japan in 1954. From there, she began building one of America’s most comprehensive collections of Japanese art—considered the largest outside of Japan. Burke, along with Asia Society Founder John D. Rockefeller III (1906–1978), spearheaded interest in Asian art in the United States starting as early as the 1960s.

Sylvia Tsai is associate editor at ArtAsiaPacific.