Tokyo Comes to Amherst in a Groundbreaking Exhibition at the Mead Art Museum

August 21, 2012, 413-542-2295

AMHERST, Mass.-On Saturday, August 25, 2012, Amherst College's Mead Art Museum will open Reinventing Tokyo: Japan's Largest City in the Artistic Imagination, the first exhibition ever held in the United States to consider portrayals of Tokyo in light of the city's continual reinvention since its founding, under the name Edo, more than 400 years ago.


Using a carefully selected group of woodblock prints, scroll paintings, photographs, kimonos, and fashion dating from the end of the Edo period in the 19th century to the present day, Reinventing Tokyo documents the changes that took place as the city modernized and westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as part of the country's economic miracle in the postwar decades. It concludes by addressing the ways in which Tokyo has adapted to the future visions of planners who strive to create yet another new city for the 21st century. The exhibition draws on the Mead's celebrated holdings of Japanese art, and includes works from important private and public collections in Japan and the United States, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Hamaya Hiroshi Archive; the Kageyama Kōyō Archive; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College; the John C. Weber Collection; and the Leonard Lauder Collection.


"The Mead is honored to bring this exciting project--developed from an innovative, team-taught, collection-based Amherst College course--before a wide public," noted the Mead's director, Elizabeth Barker. "The exhibition offers a compelling glimpse into one of the world's great cities, and explores its transforming impact on generations of artists. Beautiful and provocative by turns, Reinventing Tokyo promises to change the way we think about Japanese art of the past two centuries."


Reinventing Tokyo remains on view through Sunday, December 30, 2012. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of events, all free and open to the public, listed on the museum's website.


A richly illustrated scholarly catalogue published by the University Press of New England and featuring essays by Samuel Morse, Trent Maxey, Timothy Van Compernolle, John W. Dower, and Yamashita Yuji, accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue is available from the museum's bookshop, the University Press of New England, and other booksellers.


The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the David W. Mesker, Class of 1953, Fund; the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund; and the Wise Fund for Fine Arts. A grant from the College and University Art Museums Program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided research support for the faculty guest curator: Samuel C. Morse, the Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of the History of Art and Asian Languages and Civilizations. A generous grant from the Japan Foundation underwrote the publication of the exhibition catalogue. A grant from the Toshiba International Foundation and additional support from the John Whitney Hall Fund and the Copeland Colloquium at Amherst College are funding the related series of events.

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. The museum and its gift shop-café are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term.


For more information, including a complete schedule of all museum events, please visit or call 413/542-2335.