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Edo: Art in Japan 1615-1868

November 15, 1998 – February 15, 1999
East Building, Upper Level, Mezzanine, and North Bridge

Installation view of Edo: Art in Japan 1615-1868, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: The exhibition, the first comprehensive survey of Japanese art of the Edo period (1615-1865) in the United States, presented 281 objects, including painted scrolls and screens, costumes, armor, sculpture, ceramics, and woodblock prints. 47 of the works were designated National Treasures of Japan, and many had never before left the country. 150 of the works, deemed too fragile for long exposure to light, were exchanged for other works in a rotation made between January 6 and 15.

Passes were required to view the exhibition on weekends and holidays. Passes were available in advance from TicketMaster or at the East Building pass desk. A limited number of same-day passes were available at the pass desk.

A performing arts festival that included a marionette theater company, festival dancers, fireman acrobats, Taiko drummers, kite flying, and evening performances of Kabuki theater and traditional Japanese dance complemented the exhibition. A 17th-century bronze temple bell was brought to Washington and rung outside the East Building on January 9 and 10, 2000, in celebration of the New Year. A lecture series and films were also presented. An electronic recreation of life in Edo Japan could be viewed on computers outside the exhibition.

Organization: The National Gallery of Art, Washington, in collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Government of Japan, and The Japan Foundation organized the exhibition. Robert T. Singer, curator of Japanese art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was the curator.

Sponsor: The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and was made possible by NTT. The Edo festival and New Year's celebration was made possible by the Fund for the International Exchange of Art.

Attendance: 188,606

Catalog: Edo: Art in Japan 1615-1868, by Robert T. Singer et al. Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1998.

Brochure: Edo: Art in Japan 1615-1868, by Susan M. Arensberg with Takahide Tsuchiya. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1998.

Download a free PDF of the exhibition catalog (PDF 163.63MB)

Introduction to the Exhibition: Edo: Art in Japan, 1615-1868
Audio, Released: July 24, 2012, (54:13 minutes)