The Museum’s Japanese print collection has long been a source of pride. In 1932 the Museum acquired the Mary Andrews Ladd collection of 750 Japanese prints—an impressive collection and one of the earliest of its kind in the country. During this anniversary year as the Museum reflects on the past and considers the future, it is gratifying to report that the Asian art collection, and in particular the Japanese print collection is thriving thanks to a long history of support and forward-thinking curatorial management.
Earlier this year Dr. Jeannie Kenmotsu joined the Museum as the Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art. This new position is funded by a special five-year grant from the Japan Foundation. Dr. Kenmotsu recently completed her Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kenmotsu’s primary responsibility is to research, interpret, and organize biannual exhibitions of the Museum’s outstanding collection of more than 2,700 traditional and contemporary Japanese prints. Her first exhibition, Craftsmanship and Wit: Modern Japanese Prints from the Collection of Carol and Seymour Haber is now open. The Habers were long-time supporters of the Museum, and the print study room bears their name.
A native of Austin, Texas, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Pomona College with a major in English, Kenmotsu’s interest in art history was kindled during an undergraduate internship at the Getty Museum in illuminated manuscripts and a year working at a New York gallery specializing in contemporary Chinese art. In her graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, she quickly gravitated to 18th-century Japanese prints and illustrated books.
“She is an ideal fit for the strengths of our collections, and will carry on the legacy of print expert Donald Jenkins, the Museum’s longtime curator of Asian art,” says Maribeth Graybill, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art. Donald Jenkins oversaw the development of the Asian art collection and had an international reputation for his scholarship on Japanese prints. His 45-year tenure at the Museum was transformational.
The Museum is deeply grateful to the Japan Foundation for its support for the Assistant Curator position, in the form of a Museum Infrastructure Grant of just over $485,000. The grant will also underwrite Japanese exhibition and gallery renovation costs over a five-year period.