Skip To Main Content

Vanderpoel Gallery of Asian Art

Collector and Donor Emily Vanderpoel in her NYC apartment, surrounded by her collection of Asian Art.

Mrs. Vanderpoel pictured at her Grammercy Park home.

In 1935, Slater Memorial Museum director Hannah Dodge pursued New York collector Emily Noyes Vanderpoel in hopes of acquiring the donation of Mrs. Vanderpoel extensive collection of East Asian art and artifacts. The success of that acquisition led other donors in the succeeding 85 years to add to the collection. It includes Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian and Chinese objects. Materials and techniques include ceramics, ivories, silk textiles, fans, woodblock prints and metal work.

The first display of the objects was installed shortly after Mrs. Vanderpoel made her donation. The gallery was refreshed in 2011 when the Atrium was completed and the entire museum was re-installed and re-interpreted. Even then, museum staff realized that the research was lacking and that the objects had even more exciting stories to tell.

An example is the collection of Japanese Netsuke, a unique form of purse closure.  These skillfully carved miniatures embody Japanese folk tales and parables in delightful caricatures, but the stories hadn't been presented to the public. The New exhibition will include an accompanying accessible iPad so that the public can learn these legends to better enjoy the actual works.

A new and exciting object included in the exhibition will be a full scale copy of a Qin Shi Huang Warrior. Thousands of remarkable figures were discovered in the 1970's in a trove in remote China which has been undergoing excavation for decades. Further study found that, like ancient Greek statuary, the ceramic warriors had been polychromed. The General on display in the new exhibition will be accurately and colorfully painted.