NEA Grant to Conserve Sixteenth-Century Chinese Dragon Tapestry

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced on April 25 that the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery of Scripps College is one of 788 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Williamson Gallery is recommended for a $10,000 grant to treat a Chinese textile altar panel of a dragon, which dates back to the late sixteenth century. The 788 Art Works grants total $24.81 million and support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

 The goal of this project is to engage Southern California residents, including students of all ages, as well as a national and international audience via the web and provide them with experiences of diverse and excellent art through the conservation, publication and exhibition of rare and captivating Chinese textiles.

Chairman Landesman said, “The arts should be a part of everyday life. Whether it’s seeing a performance, visiting a gallery, participating in an art class, or simply taking a walk around a neighborhood enhanced by public art, these grants are ensuring that across the nation, the public is able to experience how art works.”

Of the tapestry, Professor of Art History and Humanities, Bruce Coats, notes, “The central panel of this silk banner depicts a dragon soaring up into multi-colored clouds above craggy rocks in a turbulent sea. The piece was probably hung on an altar as part of a ceremonial arrangement. When conserved, this Chinese dragon panel will join a number of dragon paintings, dragon sculptures and dragon robes in the Scripps College collections. We regularly exhibit dragon depictions from China, India, Japan and Korea, to the delight of school children who attend the shows.” The work will be treated by textile conservator Yadin Larochette. Once conserved, the tapestry will be used by students, who work with Professor Coats to organize exhibitions in conjunction with courses in Asian art.

The NEA received 1,624 eligible applications under the Art Works category for this round of funding, requesting more than $78 million in funding. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at

Image:  Kesi Panel (with Dragon) T116, 1590-1640 (detail); silk, metal foil; 60 x 35 1/2 in.; Scripps College, Claremont, CA