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The Century of Tung Ch'i-ch'ang Exhibition Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-24-00

Scope and Contents Note

These records primarily consist of correspondence, meeting minutes, labels, catalog files, recordings of presentations at the accompanying symposium, and other miscellaneous materials related to the exhibition.


  • Creation: 1990-1992

Restrictions on Access

Since this collection is unprocessed, requested records must be reviewed before they can be viewed by researchers; allow a minimum of one week for review.

Conditions Governing Use Note

Notification of intent to publish, quote, or cite archival materials is required. Contact the archives via

Biographical / Historical Note

Organized by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and co-sponsored by the Beijing Palace Museum and the Shanghai Museum–China’s two leading art museums at the time–The Century of Tung Ch’i-ch’ang was the first exhibition of its kind to celebrate the artist Tung Ch’i-ch’ang (1555-1636).

A prolific Chinese calligrapher, painter, and theorist who art historians believe influenced every major Chinese landscape painter over the next three centuries, Ch’i-ch’ang’s reach was unique in that most painters in Chinese history usually only held influence over specific followers or schools. Also known as the finest calligrapher of his time, the exhibition’s catalog states that Tung Ch’i-ch’ang’s works established a “new definition” in Chinese art with awkward “raw” beauty – often including illogically-placed objects and shapes within altered planes in his non-traditional landscapes. He established both the “Northern School” of professional artists, and the “Southern School" of amateur scholar-painters, which, at the time of the exhibit, still heavily influenced current studies of Chinese painting.

Curated by Wai-Kam Ho, the Laurence Sickman Curator of Chinese Art, the exhibit traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (July 19th-September 20th, 1992) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (October 23-January 10, 1993) after its initial run at the Nelson-Atkins (April 19-June 14, 1992).

According to the exhibition catalog, the idea of organizing an inclusive exhibition of Tung Chi’-ch’ang’s works and influences grew from multiple conversations between Wai-Kam Ho and Director Marc Wilson that began shortly after Ho became curator at the Nelson-Atkins in 1985. Out of the 171 works of painting and calligraphy assembled for the exhibition, 100 were borrowed from the Beijing Palace Museum and the Shanghai Museum – most of which had never been published or were known about outside of China. Other objects not already in the museum’s collections were borrowed from private collectors all over the world. Ho selected seventy-four works to represent Tung Ch’i-ch’ang’s overall work, while the other ninety-seven were chosen to demonstrate his stylistic influences over a wide range of his contemporaries in the field of Chinese painting.

Public attendance to the museum during its showing reached 48,000 with visitors coming from all over the world and the show drew critical acclaim from prestigious scholars and curators.


11.75 Linear Feet (In 10 record center cartons.)

Language of Materials



This is an unprocessed collection. A general overview of each box's contents is provided in its associated scope and contents note.

Immediate Source of Acquistion Note


Accruals Note

Additions to the collection are not anticipated.

Finding Aid of The Century of Tung Ch'i-ch'ang Exhibition Records, RG 24/00
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Repository Details

Part of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Archives Repository

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