Media Hub

Reflections of Asia

June 22, 2018

Image: Sino-Tibetan deity figures (Brahma and Chandra), Vajrabhairava group, Yongle reign, Ming dynasty, China, 1402-24 photo by Marinco Kojdanovski, MAAS collection

Reflections of Asia: Collectors and Collections 

Exclusive to the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Download the media release

Reflections of Asia: Collectors and Collections opens exclusive to the Powerhouse Museum, from 7 July 2018. The exhibition features over 550 objects from across Asia spanning from ceramic objects from the Neolithic period over 4000 years ago to fashion designers of the current day.

Reflections of Asia showcases the Museum of Applied Arts and Science’s extensive Asian collection, built up over the past 140 years, and serves as a record of the enduring Western fascination with Asia and how Asian cultures have inspired Western artists. This is the first time a comprehensive survey of the MAAS Asian collection has been on display.

MAAS Director and CEO Dolla Merrillees said “Reflections of Asia showcases 140 years of collected works in the MAAS collection and tells the story of how and why the museum has collected over generations. This exhibition provides a unique insight into the ways in which museums build collections that both preserve and document our history for future generations.”

Reflections of Asia exhibition curator Min-Jung Kim said “Makers in the west have long been captivated by the east, often taking inspiration from eastern aesthetics and attempting to replicate manufacturing techniques. This exhibition explores that appeal and influence.”

Drawn from over 10,000 objects in the state collection, exhibition highlights include two Ming dynasty bronze deity figures (two of only eight known in the world) that were originally a mystery and finally authenticated in 2016;
a huge Japanese incense burner over 2 metres high that has never been on display and an ancient scroll that is believed to be one of oldest Chinese paintings in Australia.

Adding to the extensive MAAS collection are loans from two private collectors of contemporary art; White Rabbit Collection and Gene & Brian Sherman Collection highlighting contemporary collecting trends. Art works include Chinese artists Shi Jindian’s Blue CJ750, steel wire crocheted sculpture of Chinese military motorbike, Wang Lei’s Fabrication 3 exploring the Chinese invention of paper and Ai Weiwei’s Overcoat, a military uniform signed by the artist. An installation by Chinese Australian paper-cut artists, Tianli Zu will also be on display.

The exhibition is presented in seven themes; Wood and Lacquerwork, Ceramics, Metalwork, Small Treasures, Dress and Textiles, Contemporary Fashion and Contemporary Art. These themes are explored through the lens of key Australian collectors from the 19th century to the current day; Julian Tenison-Woods (1832-1889), Charles Laseron (1887-1959), Christian Rowe Thornett (1872-1972), Hedda and Alastair Morrison (1908-1991, 1915-2009), Judith and Ken Rutherford, Gene Sherman and Judith Neilson.

Reflections of Asia will open on 7 July, the day of the annual Japanese Tanabata Star Festival; a celebration of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi, two lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair who meet once a year.

What: Reflections of Asia: Collectors and Collections
When: 7 July 2018 – December 2019
Where: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007
Price: Free with museum admission

MEDIA CONTACT: Eli Wallis, MAAS T: 0402 359 016 E:

About the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Powerhouse Museum, alongside Sydney Observatory and Museums Discovery Centre, is part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Australia’s contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences. MAAS has a vast and diverse collection of over 500,000 objects.