Made in the Americas
The New World Discovers Asia

August 18, 2015–February 15, 2016
Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)

Extraordinary objects tell the story of the influence of Asia on the arts of colonial America.

Within decades of the “discovery” of America by Spain in 1492, goods from Asia traversed the globe via Spanish and Portuguese traders. The Americas became a major destination for Asian objects and Mexico became an international hub of commerce. The impact of the importation of these goods was immediate and widespread, both among the European colonizers and the indigenous populations, who readily adapted their own artistic traditions to the new fashion for Asian imports.

“Made in the Americas” is the first large-scale, Pan-American exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas. Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonies, this exhibition explores the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of materials—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting. Exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Quebec City, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, include blue-and-white talavera ceramics copied from imported Chinese porcelains, elaborately decorated furniture inspired by imported Japanese lacquer, and luxuriously woven textiles made to replicate fine silks and cottons imported from China and India.

The timing of the exhibition marks the 450th anniversary of the beginning of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico, which was inaugurated in 1565 and ended in 1815, two and a half centuries later.

Above: José Manuel de la Cerda, Desk-on-stand (detail), Pátzcuaro, Mexico, 18th century. Lacquered and polychromed wood with gilt decoration. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY.

In the News

8/14/2015 The Wall Street Journal "The Beginning of Globalization"
8/28/2015 The New York Times "Review: ‘Made in the Americas’ Explores Globalism From Way, Way Back"
9/15/2015 The Boston Globe "Sumptuous MFA show traces Asian influences in American art"
10/28/2015 The New York Review of Books Daily "Pagodas in Quebec"
January 2016 Antiques and Fine Art: "In Search of Japanning in the Colonial Americas"


Presented with generous support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional support provided by The Huber Family Foundation and the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Exhibition Fund.

Generous support for the publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund.