Detail: Since The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870, the institution's physical space and collection have grown and its curatorial departments have diversified. The first Asian works of art to enter the collection—mostly ceramics and lacquers—were acquired in 1879 and originally accommodated in what was then called the Department of Decorative Arts. Only in 1915 was a separate Department of Far Eastern Art established, and it was not until 1986 that its name was changed to the Department of Asian Art. The timeline presented in the photographs in this exhibition chronicles the changing face of The Met's galleries of Asian art as the building's footprint has expanded, exhibition styles have evolved, and the collection has grown.
Forever a work in progress, The Met's collection of Asian art is ultimately the product of the passion and scholarship of the many collectors, curators, donors, dealers, and directors who have together shaped the Museum's holdings and legacy.