2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, when Japan overthrew its military government and restored the power of the Japanese emperor. Under the rule of Emperor Mutsuhito (1868–1912), also known as the Meiji Emperor, the country made rapid political and social changes and opened to the West for the first time. The new government prioritized modernization and industrialization, as Japan made its official entry onto the international stage.
The new global phenomenon of world’s fairs at this time opened up venues for Japan to display its industrial prowess. Yet visitors to the fairs often were even more impressed by the craftsmanship they found in the Japanese art exhibits. At the first world’s fair in the United States—the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876—Americans got their first look at Japanese wares. The exhibition stimulated early collectors of Japanese art in Philadelphia.
This exhibition focuses on four Americans whose collections in the museum span the Meiji period: Hector Tyndale, Ernest Fenollosa, Mary Harris Morris, and Samuel S. White 3rd.