The Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection of Japanese art is one of the most distinguished collections outside of Japan.
In 1916, when the Cleveland Museum of Art’s first building opened, its holdings in Japanese art already included some noteworthy Japanese woodblock prints designed by print world luminaries such as Okumura Masanobu (1686–1764) and Kitagawa Utamaro (1754–1806). Today, the museum’s Japanese collection comprises some 1,950 works spanning a period of approximately 5,000 years and includes masterworks of painting, sculpture, and prints, as well as ceramics, metalwork, and other decorative arts. The Japanese calligraphy and painting collection is impressive in its breadth, from sacred texts executed in silver and gold characters on dyed paper to expansive ink-painted vistas once intended for sliding door panels. Its selection of folding screen paintings covers many of the major genres, from bird-and-flower compositions to festival scenes, and includes examples by artists such as Sesson Shukei (c. 1504–c. 1589) and Maruyama Okyo (1733–1795). The collection also contains notable works of early Buddhist and Shinto art.