MIT Visualizing Cultures
About Visualizing Cultures
MIT Visualizing Cultures
Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2015 Visualizing Cultures

The following institutions have generously opened their archives to Visualizing Cultures scholars and provided images from their collections for publication:

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System l, ll, lll, lV
The Opium War in Japanese Eyes
John Thomson's China l
“The Cause of the Riots in the Yangtse Valley”

Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tokyo Modern l, ll, lll

Colgate University Library

China’s Modern Sketch l, ll, lll

Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Mid-19th-century Japanese prints from the Sackler’s William Leonhart Collection are the basis of a unit featuring the earliest Japanese images of “foreigners of the five nations” as seen—and more often just vividly imagined!—in the treaty ports of the 1860s.

Yokohama Boomtown
The Empress Dowager and the Camera
Tokyo Modern l, ll, lll

Hamaya Hiroshi Archive

Tokyo 1960: Days of Rage & Grief

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum’s collection of over 2,000 paintings and drawings by survivors of the August 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima is the basis of a VC unit on the world’s first “Ground Zero.” Done mostly in the early 1970s, these are the personal images of the nuclear experience that burned themselves on the minds of survivors. They provide the most intimate insight imaginable into the human dimension of nuclear warfare.

Ground Zero 1945

Honolulu Academy of Arts
The Academy provided VC with the spectacular “Black Ship Scroll” painted in Japan around 1854, at the time of the second Perry mission. A 1960 gift of Mrs. Walter F. Dillingham, in memory of Alice Perry Grew, VC has reconstructed this thirty-foot-long horizontal scroll in several formats, including a video that permits it to been seen “whole” by anyone for the first time. Both the contradictions within the scroll (such as jolly as well as demonic foreigners) and its frequent old-fashioned humor make this a rare visual “text.”

Black Ships & Samurai

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Photography albums in the Hood Museum’s collection are the sources for several units by Dartmouth Professor of Art History Allen Hockley. These include a late 1860s album by pioneer photographer Felice Beato and a deluxe 10-volume edition of Francis Brinkley’s Japan from the 1890s. The transition of travel photography from collector’s item to commercial commodity profoundly influenced foreigners’ understanding of exotic and alien cultures—and the Web now makes it possible to reassemble these images and give them new life and meaning.

Felice Beato’s Japan: Places
Globetrotters’ Japan: Places
Globetrotters’ Japan: People

Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Photography & Power in the Colonial Philippines ll

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The extensive Asian art collection of the Boston MFA has been a major resource for several VC units. The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection of Japanese woodblock prints is the basic source for the three-part “Throwing Off Asia” unit—providing a stunning view of Westernization in late-19th-century Japan, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05. Many of the Sharf prints were digitized for the first time for use in VC units. The extraordinary Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Japanese Postcards was the source of foreign as well as Japanese graphics used in two units on the Russo-Japanese war—opening up an entirely new window for understanding popular global perceptions and emotions during Japan’s emergence as a major military power.

Throwing Off Asia l, ll, lll
Asia Rising
Yellow Promise/Yellow Peril

Ohara Institute for Social Research, Hosei University

Political Protest in Interwar Japan l, ll

Peabody Essex Museum
One of the premier American museums for Asian export art, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, contributed images depicting the early China trade based on paintings and artifacts in its outstanding collection.

The Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System

Ryosenji Treasure Museum
This little gem of a museum, affiliated with the Ryosenji Temple in Shimoda (one of the two Japanese ports opened for use by Commodore Perry in 1854), houses a fine collection of popular graphics that illuminate the strikingly diversified responses of the Japanese to this rude and ominous foreign intrusion. The generosity of Abbot Daiei Matsui in making his collection accessible was instrumental in launching VC’s pioneer first unit on Japan’s opening to the West.

Black Ships & Samurai l, ll

Shiseido Corporation
Founded at the very beginning of the 20th century, the history of the Shiseido cosmetics firm amounts to a small mirror on the history of modernity in Japan—reflecting changing ideals of feminine beauty, the emergence of a vibrant consumer culture, cutting-edge trends in packaging and advertising art, and the persistence of cosmopolitan ideals even in the midst of the dark valley of war and oppression. Shiseido has opened its huge and exceptionally rich archives to VC as it moves on to bring a scholarly lens to popular culture in the 20th century.

Selling Shiseido l, ll, lll

Smith College Museum of Art
A pristine 50-print photo album from the Smith College of Art collection featuring views of Japanese people by Felice Beato provided VC with the basis for showing the birth of commercial photography of Japan for the tourist trade. Beato’s famous images set a pattern for what foreigners saw (and failed to see) in Japan for decades to come.

Felice Beato’s Japan: People

Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University

The First Opium War

The Wolfsonian-Florida International University

Tokyo Modern l, ll, lll

Additional Contributing Institutions
Allentown Art Museum
Bard Graduate Center
Chicago Historical Society
Chrysler Museum of Art
George Eastman House
Harvard University
Honolulu Bishop Museum
Kobe City Museum
Library of Congress
Nagasaki Municipal Museum
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Shimura Toyoshiro collection
Shiryo Hensanjo, University of Tokyo
Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution Division of Photographic Resources
Tokyo National Museum
US Naval Academy Museum
US Naval Historical Center
White House Historical Association
Yokohama Archives of History
Yokohama Museum of Art

About VC  |  VC Scholars  |  Partner Institutions  |  Outreach  |  Conferences & Events
MIT Visualizing CulturesMenu
MIT Visualizing Cultures VC UnitsMIT Visualizing Cultures About VC VC Scholars Partner Institutions Outreach Conferences & Events Contact Join Us Follow UsVC UnitsUnits Icon View Text View Curriculae