MFA Boston Appoints Ai Fukunaga as Ishibashi Assistant Curator for Japanese Art

BOSTON (July 26, 2022)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has announced the appointment of Dr. Ai Fukunaga as the Ishibashi Foundation Assistant Curator for Japanese Art. Since assuming her role in April 2022, Fukunaga has been working on a wide range of projects to contribute fresh and innovative perspectives on the Museum’s renowned holdings of Japanese art, including planning for exhibitions in Boston and Japan, cataloging the collection and researching acquisitions. She is the second assistant curator to hold the two-year position, which was established in 2018 through a $1 million grant from the Tokyo-based Ishibashi Foundation.

“The Ishibashi Foundation Assistant Curator position has been created to foster the development of a new generation of curators of Japanese art in the U.S. by providing them with opportunities to work intimately with the MFA’s collection and participate in ongoing projects. For the institution, it is also a wonderful chance to learn from young specialists about different fields of study,” said Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art. “Ai is the first member of the MFA’s curatorial staff with extensive training in Japanese ceramics in over 100 years, and we look forward to advancing the Museum’s presentation of that important field with her.”

Fukunaga joined the MFA in May 2021 as a Curatorial Research Associate. Since that time, she has collaborated with colleagues on editing the catalogue for the four-venue traveling exhibition The Heroes: Chronicles of the Warriors—Swords x Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the two-volume bilingual catalogue raisonné Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts. She has previously worked with the collections at the British Museum, the Maidstone Museum and the Okada Museum. Fukunaga completed her master’s degree at Gakushuin University in Tokyo before earning a second master’s degree and doctorate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

“The Museum of Fine Arts is well known for its historical collection of Japanese ceramics, but it has not been studied for many decades. I am excited by the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at the MFA and scholars and artists from the local and international communities in reevaluating and presenting these works,” said Fukunaga.

The Ishibashi Foundation Assistant Curator for Japanese Art position builds upon the Museum’s longstanding commitment to showcasing and preserving the art of Japan, which dates back to the 19th century. In 1890, the MFA became the first American museum to establish a Japanese collection and appoint a curator specializing in Japanese art. Today, the Museum houses a Japanese collection of nearly 100,000 objects—the finest and most comprehensive holdings of Japanese art outside of Japan—providing an environment rich with resources for young scholars interested in pursuing curatorial work.