Starting Oct. 24, familiar drawings and paintings in six of the Georgia Museum of Art’s galleries will become overrun with armor and strong visual pieces that represent Japanese culture during the age of the samurai military class.
The Georgia Museum of Art is one of the three museums in the United States to have the opportunity to show the exhibit, “Samurai: The Way of the Warrior.” The exhibit is leaving its home at the Stibbert Museum in Florence, Italy to visit Athens, Houston, and Sarasota, Florida for a limited time.
“There hasn’t been a show like this in the state of Georgia in a long time, so we were like, ‘we will do whatever we can to make this happen,’” said Hillary Brown, director of communications at the museum.
The exhibit will be shown alongside a variety of programs, such as a four film series, a Student Night organized by the museum’s Student Association and two lectures. One lecture is from Yale University’s William Fleming, an assistant professor of East Asian literature and theater, and the other is from UGA’s Masaki Mori, the Japanese program director. These programs will not only entertain, but also educate visitors about Japanese culture.
“I’m excited about [the exhibit] because I love Japanese mythology,” said Heather Foster, an education intern at the museum and a UGA graduate student.
As part of her internship, Foster designed Pokemon-esque samurai cards that are going to be handed out at the exhibit. She said she hopes each card “brings to life all of the mythology” in Japanese culture and from the exhibit so “[visitors] learn about the culture… maybe be creatively inspired by the work.”
The museum has set up a crowdfunding page online, aiming to raise $94,500 to cover fees, licensing and manufacturing costs. However, the crowdfunding deadline was extended to Jan. 3 of next year, when the exhibit closes, because only $1,750 in donations — less than 2 percent of the goal — were received by the original Oct. 9 deadline.
Although the museum’s crowdfunding goal has not been met, Brown confirmed that the exhibit would still go on while still providing the same quality of programming and the usual number of tours.
“We have some endowment funds, so the show is happening regardless, and we’ve made a commitment to have it be free admission regardless,” Brown said. “It would better if that crowdfunder does better. That means we have to take fewer funds from the endowment and we have more funds for other exhibitions down the line.”
The museum anticipates a wide range of visitors coming to see the exhibit between Student Night on Nov. 12 and UGA’s fourth annual Spotlight on the Arts festival from Nov. 5-14.
Rebecca Cayton, the president of the museum’s Student Association, said that Student Night will be “a chance for [students] to come and be in a more relaxed, casual environment” and experience all that the museum has to offer.
Student Night, free for students, will include a Japanese martial arts demonstration by Kendo, a UGA student organization, a scavenger hunt with prizes and a photo booth complete with props.
“Our main goal is just to promote the museum. A lot of students don’t really know it’s here,” Cayton said. “We are kind of like a liaison between the museum and the student population.”