California couple donates $25M in Japanese art to Mpls. Institute of Arts

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The Minneapolis Institute of Arts announced Tuesday that it will be receiving a $25 million Japanese art collection from a couple in California, the Pioneer Press reports.

The gift -- courtesy Elizabeth and Willard Clark of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture -- spans more than 10 centuries and contains more than 1,600 objects. Among the collection are paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and bamboo baskets.

The Clarks reportedly selected the MIA for the donation because the museum already has 5,000 objects, making it one of the most significant collections of Asian art in the U.S.

The Star Tribune reports that Willard Clark's interest in Japanese culture began during tours in Japan while serving in the U.S. Navy, and he started seriously collecting Japanese art in the 1970s.

In 1995, Clark and his wife founded their nonprofit Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture.

While all of the Center's items were donated, items from the Clark's personal collection were acquired through a $5 million "partial gift, partial purchase" arrangement -- which the MIA uses money from a special endowment for art purchases.

Apart from the couple's art collecting endeavors, Willard Clark is known for building his family's dairy farm into World Wide Sires, an international leader in artificial insemination.

Japan has twice awarded Clark -- once for improving the dairy industry and the other time for promoting the study of Japanese art, the Star Tribune says.

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