- Published on 05/ 31/ 2017
- Location The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- Photography Elisabeth Smolarz
Promoting Japanese Art at the Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas. In 1915, the first curator specializing in Asian art was hired, establishing the “Far Eastern Art,” now the Asian Art, department. Today, the full range of Japanese art—from Neolithic ceramics (ca. 1500–300 B.C.) to Edo-period (1615–1868) woodblock prints and textiles to contemporary ceramics and works of art—is presented in eleven galleries. The Arts of Japan Galleries and the Asian Art department are located at The Met’s Fifth Avenue location.
Born and raised in Budapest, Monika has a surprisingly deep connection to Japanese art objects. She first fell in love with the beauty, composition, and inscriptions in Japanese woodblock prints while studying 19th-century European painting at ELTE Budapest University. Later, she had an opportunity to visit the Museum of Applied Arts’ storage in Budapest. She became fascinated by Japanese lacquer, especially maki-e. That’s when she decided to focus on the history of Japanese lacquer. She was granted a fellowship at the University of Kyoto and worked with the curator of the Kyoto National Museum, staying in Kyoto to work at the Ritsumeikan University and research Western collections of Japanese decorative arts.
Appointed in 2014 as an assistant curator at The Met, she works closely with Mary Griggs Burke Curator John Carpenter, managing and caring for the Museum’s collections of Japanese decorative arts and textiles. Her job responsibilities include collecting art objects to enhance the collection, working with conservators to preserve the conditions of ancient to contemporary artworks, and planning exhibitions. She’s a proponent of viewing tactile objects in an exhibition setting in the same way they were used in real life, juxtaposing paintings with three-dimensional art works.
Monika’s most recent project is Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection, an exhibition featuring the turning points in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, on view at The Met from June 13, 2017 through February 4, 2018.