IMLS Awards Williamson Gallery Grant to Conserve Works of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Rare and valuable Chinese paintings from the 16th through 19th centuries will be conserved and used for teaching and exhibitions at Scripps.



China Anonymous, “Two Star Deities of Happiness and Honor,” 16th – 17th c., paint on silk, Scripps College

Six valuable Chinese paintings in the Scripps College collection will be conserved with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The damaged works will be made usable for teaching and display with a $58,385 Museums for America grant. “These grants will fund the conservation of Chinese paintings so that students and the public can better enjoy them,” said Mary MacNaughton, director of the Williamson Gallery at Scripps College. A future exhibition of the works will include an examination of the traditional art of conserving Asian paintings.

Students examine centuries-old Chinese textiles from the Scripps collection with Prof. Bruce Coats.

Since 2007, the Williamson Gallery has conserved Chinese paintings, and many of these are on view on the Scripps College campus, in the Clark Humanities Museum. Students in Professor of Art History Bruce Coats’s course, “Arts of Late Imperial China,” research and write about these extraordinary works. Professor Coats, who has written numerous publications and curated several exhibitions on the history of Asian art, utilizes the collection as a resource for art history and humanities seminars at Scripps. “Seeing digital images and examining actual Chinese paintings are quite different experiences,” Coats explained. “To carefully observe how artists have used brush strokes on silk or paper to achieve visual effects helps students intimately understand the production and the contexts of these works. They then use this knowledge to create exhibitions about Chinese cultures. Teaching with ‘real objects’ is very important to art history and enlivens the classroom or museum experience.”

Mr. Tomokatsu Kawazu, a conservator specializing in Asian art, will be entrusted with the paintings selected for conservation. Both of the works displayed here, Two Star Deities of Happiness and Honor and Lady Holding Peony, are among the pieces Mr. Kawazu will treat.

Leng-Mi, “Lady Holding Peony” (detail), 18th century, paint on paper, Scripps College

The Williamson Gallery houses more than 100 Chinese paintings, primarily from the 16th century Ming and 19th century Qing dynasties. The collection is the second largest of Chinese paintings in Los Angeles available for public viewing.











About the IMLS Conservation Project Support Awards: The awards help museums identify conservation needs and priorities and perform activities to ensure the safekeeping of their collections. The grants are given through competitive peer review and require that at least a 100 percent match be made by the applicant. This year, the IMLS presented grants of nearly $30 million for 244 projects in a wide array of museums, including art museums, aquariums, science centers, and history museums. IMLS Director Susan Hildreth says, “The nation’s 17,500 museums are trusted spaces where people can follow their passions and connect with their communities in new ways, where treasured collections are used to create unique learning places.”

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