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Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts Celebrates 10th Anniversary
The Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts was established as the sister museum of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

BOSTON, MA.- The Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts (N/BMFA), America‘s first and only sister museum in Asia, will mark its 10th anniversary during a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 17, 2009, in Nagoya, Japan. Since opening in April 1999, 3.3 million people have visited the N/BMFA. During the past decade, the N/BMFA has presented numerous exhibitions drawn from the encyclopedic collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). In honor of the N/BMFA‘s anniversary, the MFA has organized a special exhibition, Gauguin, which will be on view from April 18–June 21 at the N/BMFA. A highlight of the exhibition, Paul Gauguin‘s monumental masterpiece D’o venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? O allons-nous? (Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?) (1897–98, MFA), will travel to Asia for the first time. The painting, considered by Gauguin to be his artistic and spiritual testament, was purchased by the MFA in 1936, and since then has rarely left the Museum. After Nagoya, Gauguin will travel to the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo (MOMAT/Tokyo), where it will be on view from July 3–September 23.

Founded by its parent organization, The Foundation for the Arts, Nagoya (FAN), the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts (N/BMFA) was established as the sister museum of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to share with Japan a comprehensive view of world art from across all cultures and time periods. Since its opening in 1999, when the 20-year partnership (1999–2019) was launched, the museum has presented more than 20 major exhibitions organized by the MFA with the N/BMFA, sharing more than 2,700 works from the MFA‘s encyclopedic collection. The N/BMFA also has served as an important model for artistic and cultural exchange between the United States and Japan, and has become an integral part of the vibrant community life in Nagoya, a flourishing center of commerce and industry in the heart of Japan. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the N/BMFA, the MFA has produced a Japanese version of its book, The MFA Handbook: A Guide to the Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2009, MFA Publications), which represents its first foreign-language edition.

"The MFA has a special relationship with Japan dating back to the late 19th century, when we became the first museum in the United States to collect Japanese works and to appoint a curator of Japanese art. With the founding of the N/BMFA 10 years ago, our intent was to strengthen this important connection by sharing with Japan some of the finest art from the MFA‘s encyclopedic collection," said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. "It is fitting that we send one of our greatest masterpieces to Nagoya on this occasion, which reflects in its title the evolving relationship between our two museums: Where do we come from, what are we, and where are we going? We look forward to continuing this important cultural partnership between Nagoya and Boston."

Rogers will attend the anniversary celebration and opening of Gauguin in Nagoya this April with Katherine Getchell, the MFA‘s Deputy Director, and George Shackelford, the MFA‘s Chair of the Art of Europe and Arthur K. Solomon Curator of Modern Art, who curated Gauguin. They will join N/BMFA Chairman Hideo Ogasawara, Director Dr. Shunkichi Baba, Secretary General Takeshi Nagura, and curator Satoko Inokuchi for opening festivities:

Friday, April 17: The private ribbon-cutting ceremony will include speeches by museum directors Dr. Shunkichi Baba and Malcolm Rogers; a concert by 17-year-old Tomoki Kitamura, a piano prodigy local to Nagoya; and a lecture by famous author, lyricist, and television celebrity Rei Nakanishi. Also, in celebration of the Gauguin exhibition, local university students will be creating their interpretation of Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? in three different media, which will all be displayed in the front lobby of the museum.

Saturday, April 18: Gauguin will open to the public at 10 a.m., and the first 100 visitors to the exhibition will receive a gift. At 2 p.m., George Shackelford will give a lecture on the artist‘s voyages to Tahiti and the Marquesas—the South Sea islands where Gauguin produced his most brilliant works of art, including his masterpiece, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897–98, MFA, Boston). Using Gauguin's letters and journals of the period, Shackelford will show how the artist‘s sojourns to the other side of the globe changed his art and the course of modern art in the 20th century.

"It has been a pleasure to collaborate with the MFA to bring a wide range of artworks to the N/BMFA. During the past decade, more than three million visitors have had the opportunity to view important works from the MFA‘s renowned collection," said Dr. Baba, N/BMFA Director. "We are especially excited to welcome Gauguin‘s masterpiece, D’o venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? O allons-nous?, to our museum for its historic first visit to Japan."

Gauguin spans two decades of Paul Gauguin‘s (1848–1903) extensive career, beginning with an early landscape when he was still a ―Sunday painter‖ in France, Entrance to the Village of Osny (1882–83, MFA), and ending with one of the artist‘s final works created just months before his death in the Marquesas Islands in 1903, Women and a White Horse (1903, MFA). The exhibition features approximately 20 works from the MFA‘s collection, including paintings, woodcut prints, and sculptural reliefs, and about 20 loans from museums in Japan.

In addition to the Gauguin exhibition, the creation of a new installation, the ―Boston Corner,‖ will debut on April 18. Through rare archival photographs, documents, and architectural renderings, it chronicles the history of the MFA—from its founding in 1870 to today‘s Museum, its partnership with Nagoya, and future expansion plans that include a new American Wing expected to be complete in late 2010.

Independently, the N/BMFA is organizing an exhibition of Noritake China, the flourishing corporation with headquarters in Nagoya, showcasing some 200 examples of the delicate porcelain produced in its studios from the end of the Meiji era to the beginning of the Shōwa era in the early 20th century. The One Hundred Years of Noritake Design will be on view from April 18–August 30 at the N/BMFA.

Exhibitions in Nagoya are developed through the collaborative efforts of representatives from the MFA and the N/BMFA. Staff members from both museums travel between the two cities to study, share research, and discuss themes and content of exhibitions drawn from the MFA‘s rich and varied collection. The inaugural exhibition in 1999, Monet, Renoir, and the Impressionist Landscape, attracted nearly 450,000 visitors. Other popular exhibitions over the years have included Okakura Tenshin and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (123,000 visitors) in 1999, Millet (155,000 visitors) in 2002, and The World of Claude Monet (144,000 visitors) in 2008. Serving as complement to the exhibitions are educational programs, from lectures and symposia to gallery talks and tours that focus on works of art in the MFA‘s collection, as well as more general art history topics. In addition, the museum organizes programs for children and families. The N/BMFA also has a Library Corner where research materials are available, and the museum collaborates with the MFA in the publication of catalogues for major exhibitions in Nagoya.

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