Joe Earle

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Earle.jpgVice-President, and Director, Japan Society Gallery at Japan Society.

has worked for more than 30 years in the field of Asian and Japanese arts and cultures. He is a graduate of Oxford University, where he majored in Chinese language and literature. In 1974 he joined the newly-formed Far Eastern Department of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and began to specialize in Japanese art, creating exhibitions on contemporary lacquer, ceramics and design as well as serving as consultant to the Royal Academy’s groundbreaking Great Japan Exhibition (1981-82).

On becoming head of the V & A’s Far Eastern Department in 1983, Earle spearheaded the creation of the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art. After three years as the V & A’s Head of Public Services, he embarked on a freelance career from 1990 until 2003. During that time he acted as coordinator for the “Visions of Japan” exhibition, centerpiece of the 1991 UK Japan Festival, and curated numerous shows in Europe, Japan and the United States, as well as writing catalogues for a wide variety of leading collectors, commercial galleries, auction houses and museums.

In 2000 he began working as a consultant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and in 2003 he was appointed first Chair of the MFA’s Department of Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa. During his nearly four years at the MFA, he made several key appointments; launched an ambitious program of deaccessioning and acquisition; completed half of the Japanese Print Access and Documentation project which eventually released some 50,000 prints to the web with the help of more than 50 volunteers in the U.S. and Japan; initiated a similar program for Japanese illustrated books; oversaw the web release of a further 30,000 images from the Asian collections; started a major series of loans to Japanese museums; completed the refurbishment of two major galleries; and assisted in raising more than $4m in support for the Department.

In September 2007, Earle took the post of Vice-President, and Director, Japan Society Gallery at Japan Society. He has authored, translated or edited more than a dozen books and catalogues on Japanese art topics ranging from early medieval garden design through the export crafts of the Meiji era to contemporary art and design. He is also a published translator of contemporary Japanese fiction.