Berea College’s Asian Art Collection

The collection of Asian art at Berea College is extremely broad in range, including material from China, Japan, artcollectionKorea, India, and all the other Asian countries between Indonesia in the south and Tibet in the north. The collection is a bit uneven, with wonderful works of art shelved next to souvenir items. The size of the collection is daunting, with an estimated 1,800 objects, many largely unstudied.

Teaching about Asian art has a long history at Berea College.  From the 1940s through the 1980s, professors Dorothy Tredennick and Lester Pross helped several generations of Bereans to become aware of the riches of Asian art and art history, particularly sumi-e (Japanese brush painting).

In 2007-08, an ASIANetwork-Luce Foundation Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Grant made possible a visit by consulting scholar Dr. Sandy Kita, who cataloged and studied the Japanese art collection. This collection consists of paintings, woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), modern Japanese prints (gendai hanga), woodblock-printed books, manuscripts and other calligraphy, armor, kimono, dolls, and small objects such as sword-fittings (menuki), toggles (netsuke) and containers (inro).  Dr. Kita also was instrumental in organizing the exhibit The Horse in Japan, 1615-1912 in the fall of 2010.

From time to time, Berea has hosted delegations of Tibetan Buddhist monks, who have created sand mandalas for temporary display.  To see photos from one such display, click here.  To see video from other such visits, click here.

The Asian art collection is part of the College Art Collections. While items in the collection occasionally are exhibited in the Doris Ullmann Galleries, the vast majority of items in the collection are stored away from public view. To view objects in the Asian art collection, please contact the Curator of the College Art Collections, Dr. Meghan C. Doherty.