MUSEUMS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
LONDON – THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
The British Museum holds very important collections of Asian and Middle Eastern art and objects, displayed in many galleries including:
- Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia (Room 33) explores a wide range of objects, sculpture and paintings displayed chronologically from the Neolithic to the present.
- Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery of Chinese Jades (Room 33b) exhibits a history of Chinese jades from 5000 BC to the modern era.
- Chinese Ceramics: the Sir Percival David Collection (Room 95) displays the extensive collection of Sir Percival David (1892-1964) including the famous ‘David Vases’, dated 1351. (You can also view the collection on the British Museum’s website.)
- Korea Foundation Gallery (Room 67) displays contemporary and historic material from the Korean Peninsula including loans from the National Museum of Korea.
- Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries (Rooms 92–94) showcase objects from prehistory to the present, with ancient flame pots, through samurai armour, to contemporary manga.
- Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World (Rooms 42-43) display materials from the seventh century to the present from West Africa to Southeast Asia.
LONDON – THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
The Victoria and Albert Museum has an extensive collection of ceramics, which includes the Salting Bequest, an outstanding collection of Kangxi blue and white, Famille Verte, with some Famille Noire and Blanc de Chine.
- The Ceramics Galleries (rooms 136 to 146) include an introductory gallery, presenting a ‘world history’ of ceramics, highlighting connections between ceramics of different cultures and periods. One gallery is devoted to ceramic materials and techniques. Room 136 has fine examples of ceramics made for domestic and overseas markets during the Ming and the Qing dynasties.
- The T.T.Tsui Gallery (Rooms 44 & 47e) displays an extensive collection of Chinese art, with objects dating from 3000 BC to the present day.
- The Toshiba Gallery (Room 45) presents a comprehensive display of Japanese art and design from 1550 to the present, including ceramics, lacquer, armour, woodwork, metalwork, textiles, prints, paintings, sculpture and contemporary studio crafts.
- Room 47g displays examples of Korean art and design spanning from the fourth century up to the present day.
- The Robert H.N.Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art (Rooms 17, 18, 20 and 47f) show fine examples of Buddhist artefacts from Asia.
- The Jameel Gallery (Room 42) shows Islamic art from the Middle East and North Africa, ranging from the early Islamic period (the 7th century) to the early 20th century.
BATH – THE MUSEUM OF EAST ASIAN ART
12 Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QJ
Opened in 1993, the Museum of East Asian Art is dedicated to the arts and cultures of East and South East Asia. Its collection consists of nearly 2,000 sets of objects from East and South East Asia. The collection of Chinese art is particularly comprehensive, spanning in date from 5,000 BC to the present and covering ceramics, jades, bronzes and much more. Some of the Chinese bamboo and wood carvings are among the finest found in European collections.
BRISTOL – BRISTOL MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RL
This general museum has one of the best collections of Chinese glass outside of Asia, as well as fine Chinese ceramics of the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties from the bequest of Max Schiller. Examples of Japanese ceramics and Islamic art are also on display.
CAMBRIDGE – THE FITZWILLIAM MUSEUM
Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB
The Fitzwilliam Museum holds important collections of Asian art. Its Chinese holdings include exquisitely carved jade items, ancient ritual bronzes, snuff bottles, fans, imperial lacquers and glass, textiles, and a large quantity of imperial and export porcelain.
The arts of Japan include ceramics – the Kakiemon holdings are the best in the UK – 500 netsuke and 500 tsuba. The Museum’s collection of Japanese prints and printed books comprises works by Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro, Kunisada, Yoshitoshi, and a significant group of surimono.
The Korean holding is extensive, with perhaps the best collection of Koryo celadon outside Korea. The museum also has an important collection of applied arts from the Islamic world.
DURHAM – ORIENTAL MUSEUM, DURHAM UNIVERSITY
Elvet Hill, Durham DH1 3TH
The Oriental Museum, formerly the Gulbenkian Museum of Oriental Art and Archaeology, is part of the University of Durham. The museum has a collection of more than 23,500 Chinese, Egyptian, Korean, Indian, Japanese and other far east and Asian artefacts.
The Chinese collection contains over 10,000 objects ranging from the Zhou Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty included 1,000 pieces of Chinese pottery, and nearly 2,000 jades and hardstones. The Japanese collection spans mostly the Edo and Meiji periods.
GLASGOW – THE BURRELL COLLECTION
Pollokshaws Road, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow G43 1AT
The Burrell Collection is in the heart of Pollok Country Park, and named after its donor, the shipping magnate Sir William Burrell. The Collection holds treasures from all over the world, including pottery and porcelain produced in China over a 5,000-year period, and important examples of Islamic art.
It is currently closed for a major refurbishment and is due to re-open in Spring 2021.
OXFORD – THE ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM
Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
The Ashmolean Museum’s collections of Chinese art range from jades and ceramics of the Neolithic period through to modern, and includes the most important collection of greenware celadons outside China. Some objects were acquired in the 17th Century, with major bequests in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The museum also has a renowned collection of paintings, with a focus on modern works in the literati tradition.
The Japanese collection is now best known for its ceramics, in particular the collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century export porcelain, including fine examples of Arita, Nabeshima and Hirado porcelain, tea ceremony wares and Kyoto earthenwares.
The collection of works from the Islamic Middle East, totals well over 4,000 objects, including ceramics, metalwork, glass, wood and ivory, textiles, and works on paper and parchment. There are also substantial collections of Himalayan art from Tibet and Nepal, and of Southeast Asian art, particularly from Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.
OTHER UK PLACES OF INTEREST
EDINBURGH – NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND
The museum has a new but small gallery, showing works of art from China, Japan and Korea. It also has an extensive reserve collection, including some excellent lacquerware.
LEIGHTON BUZZARD– ASCOTT HOUSE
Wing, near Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire, LU7 0PR
Ascott House was acquired by the Rothschild family in 1873, and is now run by the National Trust. It houses a collection of paintings, fine furniture and oriental porcelain, from early ceramics, to Ming fahua and Kangxi Famille Verte.
LIVERPOOL – THE LADY LEVER ART GALLERY
Port Sunlight Village, Wirral CH62 5EQ
The Lady Lever Art Gallery was opened in 1922 to publicly display a substantial collection of fine and decorative art, including 1,000 Chinese works of art, especially Famille Noire porcelains as well earlier ceramics, reverse paintings, cloisonné and jade.
WINCHESTER – WINCHESTER COLLEGE TREASURY
College Street, Winchester SO23 9NA
Winchester’s collection of Chinese ceramics was donated by the Duberly family. It includes ceramics from the Tang to Qing dynasties as well as items made from jade, lacquer, ivory and bronze. Strengths of the collection include celadon stonewares from the Song Dynasty, early Ming porcelain and figures from the Kangxi period.