Chicago, IL

Professor at Art Institute of Chicago explains how art can provide a deeper understanding of Asian American history

Kristen Walters

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest Asian art collections in the world.
Monkey Business Images (Canva Pro license)

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Art Institute of Chicago highlights its extensive Asian Art collection, which is open to the public.

The Art Institute has been collecting pieces for more than 100 years. It is currently one of the top Asian art collections globally, featuring more than 30,000 individual artworks spanning five millennia and "represent the artistic traditions of the entire continent" of Asia, including paintings, sculptures, metalworks, pottery, and more.

Tao Wang, the chairman of the Arts of Asia Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, explained the importance of art in gaining a deeper understanding of Asian history in a video interview.

Wang explained that he used to be a professor of Asian history at the University of London. In his prior role, he mainly taught using books. However, the ability to use physical items, such as the art pieces on display at the Institute, helps to give students a deeper understanding of Asian history and culture.

In his interview, Wang discussed the importance of learning about Asian culture through objects and artifacts, not just for Asian Americans but for society in general.

In a recent post published on the Art Institute's site, Wang wrote,

As we celebrate the department's 100th anniversary, I find myself reflecting on our collection, its history, and some of the key figures who have shaped its course over the intervening century.

You can learn more about the "Arts of Asia" collection at the Art Institute of Chicago's website.

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