Plan your visit to CLAY, offering a seasonal menu of fresh local fare in one of the city's most beautiful spaces. Try our newly-launched spring menu today!
See an extraordinary spectrum of contemporary works, including vessels, figurative sculpture, and abstract forms in The Diana Reitberger Collection, on display in our Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Gallery.
Our new kids clay camps now include earlier start times, art-filled field trips, and fresh new themes. Register now for a summer of creative hands-on fun!
The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the most important specialty museums internationally. It houses approximately 4,000 objects, including European porcelain, ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary ceramics. Search the collection online!
Everyone can love clay! Become a Friend at one of the world’s great specialty museums and enjoy the benefits, including unlimited admission, invitations to exhibition previews and special events, discounts on lectures and clay classes, and more.
China and Japan have been mastering the art of making various forms of earthenware since the Neolithic Period. However, one of the most significant and far-reaching inventions in ceramic history was the discovery of porcelain in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Chinese porcelain is composed of two materials: kaolin (a white china clay) and petuntse (pulverised feldspathic rock, also known as china stone). When fired from temperatures in excess of 1250º C the body and the glaze fuse together and the porcelain becomes vitrified. Porcelain is characterized by being white, translucent, impermeable, and is resistant to thermal shock.
China dominated the production of porcelain and its trade for thousands of years. However, the methods of its manufacture spread elsewhere in Asia, notably to Korea and Japan. Porcelain was also traded across Asia, where it inspired the development of tin-glazed earthenware in present-day Iraq in the ninth century. Tin-glaze technology eventually spread throughout the Islamic world and most of Europe, and its decoration was often influenced by imported Chinese porcelain. Inspired by both Chinese and Japanese wares, porcelain was made commercially in Europe from the late seventeenth century. The designs and forms of Chinese and Japanese ceramics continue to reverberate throughout the world today.
Explore Chinese and Japanese Ceramics
1. Pilgrim Flask (detail), China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period and Mark, c.1736-1795, The Robert Murray Bell and Ann Walker Bell Collection of Blue and White Chinese Porcelain, G98.9.1
2. Hulu (Double-gourd) Vase (detail), China, Jingdezhen, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), The Anne Gross Collection, G15.7.1
3. Roof Sculpture of Equestrian Figure, China, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Collection of Ann Walker Bell, G10.4.1
4. Figure of a Courtesan (detail), Japan, Arita, c.1680-1700, The Macdonald Collection, G07.18.17
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