Location: 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is the second largest art museum in New York City and one of the largest in the United States. One of the premier art institutions in the world, its permanent collection includes more than one and a half million objects, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to
contemporary art, and represents almost every culture. It is housed in a 560, 000 square foot, Beaux-Arts building that welcomes approximately half a million visitors each year. Located in Central Brooklyn, a half-hour from midtown Manhattan with its own subway stop, the Museum is set on Eastern Parkway and one block from Grand Army Plaza in a complex of 19th-century parks and gardens that also contains Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Wildlife Center.
The mission of the Brooklyn Museum of Art is to act as a bridge between the rich artistic heritage of world cultures, as embodied in its collections, and the unique experience of each visitor. Dedicated to the primacy of the visitor experience; committed to excellence in every aspect of its collections and programs; and drawing on both new and traditional tools of communication, interpretation and presentation, the Museum aims to serve its diverse publics as a dynamic, innovative and welcoming center for learning through the visual arts.
Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art
The Museum‘s collection of ancient Egyptian art is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest in the world. Many of the works on view are presented in a major reinstallation of more than 500 objects on the third floor of the renovated Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing. It includes a chronological presentation ranging from 1350 B.C. during the reign of Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, through the regime of Cleopatra VII. It includes such diverse objects as elaborate cosmetic containers and pieces of jewelry of the New Kingdom in alabaster, wood, ivory, faience, and gold, important Dynasty XXV reliefs of the major deities Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, as well as the world famous Brooklyn Black Head of the Ptolemaic Period. Another portion of the galleries contains a thematic exhibition of almost 200 objects entitled Temples, Tombs, and the Egyptian Universe.
Highlights include exquisitely decorated sarcophagi, coffins, mummy cases, a wrapped 2,600-year-old human mummy, and a portion of the Theban tomb of an important 8th-century B.C. vizier. More than 100 of Brooklyn‘s finest pieces of the pre-Amarna Periods, as well as Roman, Ancient Greek, Assyrian, and Coptic art are also on view on the third floor.
Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas
The first museum in America to display African objects as art, Brooklyn‘s collection, particularly strong in works from central Africa, is one of the largest and most important in this country. Recently the galleries were expanded and reinstalled with 250 works of art, including several pieces that have never before been on public view. Also displayed are a carved ivory gong from the Edo people of Benin and an 18th-century wooden figure of King Mishe MiShyaang ma Mbul of the Kuba people of Zaire, both of which are the only objects of their kind in the United States. Masks, statues, jewelry, and household objects are also displayed.
The Arts of the Pacific collection includes works from Polynesia, Melanesia, and Indonesia. An important reinstallation of more than 50 objects from Melanesia, which features masks, shields, and statuary, recently opened.
The Arts of the America portion of this collection includes some of the most important Andean textiles in the world, including the famous Paracas Textile that dates to between 200 and 100 B.C. Other notable works include a 15th-century Aztec stone jaguar, and a new presentation of Peruvian art including textiles, ceramics, and gold objects. A major acquisition was recently made for this portion of the collection of an extremely rare set of fourteen mid-18th-century portraits of the Kings of the Inca Empire, painted by anonymous artisans of the Cuzco School in the highlands of Peru. There is also an outstanding collection of Native American textiles, ceramics, totem poles, statuary, headdresses, and masks.
The Arts of Asia
The Asian art collection contains some of the most comprehensive and diverse holdings in the New York Metropolitan area. The department began in 1903 under the aegis of the Museum‘s first curator of ethnology, Stewart Culin. The core of the collection was the result of grand expeditions early in the 20th century to East and South Asia. Since then the collection has grown to include Asian cultures such as Cambodia, China, India, Iran, Japan, Thailand, Tibet, and Turkey. The collection of Korean art is one of the most important in the United States. The collection of art from Iran‘s Qajar dynasty (1790s to 1924) is the only serious collection of its kind on display in America. The holdings of the Asian collection also include the largest collection in North America of material of the Ainu peoples, an indigenous culture in Northern Japan. Among the highlights of the collection are the only complete set in the United States of 100 Famous Views of Edo, polychrome woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 to 1858); a Nishapur bowl from Iran (9th or 10th-century); a celadon ewer from Korea (12th-century); and a Chinese Yuan Dynasty Blue-and-White Jar with a Design of Fishes and Water Plants.
Decorative Arts, Costumes and Textiles
The Museum‘s collection of decorative arts is considered one of the most important in the country. A pioneer in the installation of period rooms, the Museum now has 28 on exhibition, ranging from a 17th-century Brooklyn Dutch farmhouse to a 20th- century art deco library designed by Alavoine of Paris and New York. Among the period rooms are a 19th-century Moorish Room, originally a part of John D. Rockefeller‘s Manhattan mansion, and a mid-19th century parlor and library, taken from a home in Saratoga Springs, New York, replete with a complete set of Noah‘s art animals. Other objects, among them silver, ceramics, and furniture are also displayed.
The Museum‘s holdings of costumes and textiles, which includes one of the country‘s finest collections of 19th-century American and English costumes, as well as the work of 20th-century American designers and French couture, are included in the Decorative Arts department. Because of conservation concerns this wide and varied portion is only occasionally on public view.
Painting, Sculpture, Prints, Drawings, and Photography
The Brooklyn Museum‘s collection of Painting and Sculpture includes European and American works from the 14th century to the present day. The collection of American paintings is considered one of the finest in the United States. Highlights from the 18th century include famous portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale. Among the 19th-century artists represented are Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, Albert Bierstadt, George Caleb Bingham, Eastman Johnson, John Singer Sargent, George Inness, and Winslow Homer. 20th-century artists in the collection include Georgia O‘Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Alex Katz, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, and Louise Bourgeois.
Among the highlights of the European holdings are the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor gift of 58 works by Auguste Rodin, including 12 studies and figures from The Burghers of Calais, as well as trecento and quattrocento altarpieces, among them Nardo di Cione‘s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, considered one of the most important works of its kind in the United States. Other masterpieces in the collection include works by Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, and Henri Matisse.
The holdings of the Prints, Drawings, and Photography department parallel the strengths of the Museum‘s collection of American paintings and sculpture and include works by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent. In addition to holding many Old Master prints, the collection is highly respected as a strong survey collection of five decades of contemporary American printmaking. The photography portion of the collection includes signature images by Edward Steichen, Lewis Wicks Hine, Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, Consuelo Kanaga, and Paul Strand as well as the work of contemporary photographers.
American Identities: A New Look
A major reinstallation of the Brooklyn Museum of Art‘s American art holdings, considered one of the great collections of its kind in the world, integrates, for the first time, important objects from the Museum‘s exceptional collections of paintings and sculpture, decorative arts, Spanish colonial art, and Native American material.