Provenance Research on Asian Art

A collaboration between the National Museum of Asian Art (Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery) of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Zentralarchiv and Museum für Asiatische Kunst was launched in November 2020 with the aim of building an international network in the field of provenance research on Asian art and of fostering collaborative research on trade networks and market mechanisms in this area. The partnership emerged from the three-year German-American Provenance Research Exchange Program for Museum Professionals (PREP, 2017 to 2019), jointly established by the SPK and the Smithsonian.

The project is set to run for a total of five years, and kicked off in December 2020 with the webinar series: “Hidden Networks: The Trade of Asian Art”, which will run until 2022, with each webinar to be run in collaboration with an external partner institution. The series was launched on 3 December 2020 with a webinar focusing on C. T. Loo, one of the most important dealers of Chinese and Southeast Asian art in the first half of the 20th century, which was held together with the Rietberg Museum in Zurich. Further webinars will follow at quarterly intervals. The “Hidden Networks” series will conclude in 2022 with a multi-day symposium in Washington D.C., bringing together the international research community that has emerged through the webinars. Further joint research initiatives for the remainder of the project period will be agreed on during the symposium.

The next event in the “Hidden Networks: The Trade of Asian Art” series will be held on 15 April 2021: Yamanaka & Co.: Early Pioneer of the Global Asian Art Trade.


Institution: Zentralarchiv and Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Project coordinator: Dr. Christine Howald
Project partners: National Museum of Asian Art / Smithsonian Institution
Duration: 2020 to 2025
Website: Hidden Networks: The Trade of Asian Art