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Museum of Art to display Japanese woodblock prints from BYU collection

Free exhibit on display from Sept. 27, 2008 through Jan. 17, 2009.

Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Windows on a Hidden World: Japanese Woodblock Print from the BYU Museum of Art Collection,” on display from Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008 through Jan. 17, 2009.

The exhibit will be on view in the Warren & Alice Jones and Paul & Betty Boshard galleries on the museum’s lower level. Admission is free.

The museum will host an opening reception for the exhibit on Thursday, Sept. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. The free reception will feature Japanese music and light refreshments. Museum staff members will be available to answer visitors’ questions about the exhibition.

When Japan opened its doors to the outside world after two centuries of self-imposed isolation from 1639 to 1854, it was one of the most mysterious places on earth. The first glimpse many Westerners had of this hidden world came through a distinctively Japanese art form — colorful woodblock prints called ukiyo-e (oo-key-yo-eh) that had been reproduced by the thousands over the previous century.

The exhibition will feature 63 prints from the museum’s permanent collection that were created during the golden age of Japanese printmaking (1760-1860) by masters of the technique, including Suzuki Harunobu (c. 1725-1770), Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Ando Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858).

“The development of woodblock printing is connected with the development of popular culture in Japan,” said Paul Anderson, Museum of Art curator. “Japan changed dramatically during the 18th and early 19th centuries from an agrarian feudal nation to a country with several thriving cities and a prosperous merchant class. A new urban culture developed, including popular theater, romantic and comic novels, and new visual art forms including woodblock prints of entertainers, actors, rural and urban scenes, and dramatic landscapes.”

A cell phone tour will be available for this exhibition. MP3 players pre-loaded with the audio tour will also be available to check out for free from the Information Desk on the main level. Free docent-led tours of the exhibition can be scheduled during regular museum hours. Docent tours must be scheduled at least one week in advance and usually last about one hour. Call (801) 422-1140 to schedule a tour.

The Museum of Art is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays. For more information about the museum, call (801) 422-8287 or visit

Writer: Scott Hathaway

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