$12 Million Calligraphy Giveaway Transforms UMMA’s Asian Art Collection

The University of Michigan Museum of Art received a donation of Chinese calligraphy from Lo Chia-Lun’s family worth more than $12 million – the largest art donation in Michigan’s history. the university.

The Lo Chia-Lun calligraphy collection – donated by her daughter, Jiu-Fong Lo Chang, and her husband, Kuei-sheng Chang – will transform the museum’s collection of Asian art, adding an impressive range of works to a collection already stellar of Chinese paintings and ceramics.

Lo Chia-Lun, who died in 1969, was a student leader of China’s “May Fourth Movement” and became a senior government official in nationalist China as well as an academic, calligrapher, poet, and president of two major universities: l National Central University and Tsinghua University.

The Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection will contribute significantly to contemporary scholarship on Yuan and Ming Dynasty calligraphy, and includes masterpieces by Yang Weizhen, Wang Shouren, Wen Zhengming, and Wang Duo, among others.

It also represents a major contribution to the study of Chinese cultural history, as it includes pieces by many cultural leaders of the early 20th century, including Cai Yuanpei, Chen Duxiu, and Shen Yinmo, as well as later artists Xu Beihong and Zhang Daqian.

The collection preserves important evidence of the cultural activities of these notable historical figures, while reflecting the tastes and intellectual exchanges between the leading intellectuals of the early 20th century.

The donation to UMMA is the result of a long relationship between the Lo family and UM and builds on their history of philanthropy, including previous donations of Chinese art. Lo Chia-Lun’s wife, Djang Wei-djen, earned a master’s degree in political science from UM on a Barbour scholarship – one of UM’s oldest and most prestigious awards, offering a funding for female students from Asia and the Middle East since 1917.

Their daughters, Jiu-Fong Lo Chang and Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur, also attended UM University as Barbour Scholars, and their son-in-law, Kuei-sheng Chang, earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the UM.

Over the past decade, Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur has endowed a scholarship in his father’s name at Rackham Graduate School and created endowment funds for internships at UMMA.

“This gift not only honors my father’s legacy, but also recognizes our family’s deep roots in Michigan and our gratitude for the opportunities UM provided us at a time when few Chinese students had the privilege to study abroad,” Jiu-Fong Lo Chang said of the calligraphy collection.

Photo of the Lo family in Taiwan in 1963.
The Lo family in Taiwan in 1963. (Image courtesy of Elaine Chang)

UMMA will partner with UM faculty and global scholars to research and interpret works from the collection for major exhibitions and collection installations in years to come.

“The Lo Chia-Lun collection will have a major impact on UM and UMMA, in terms of research and scholarship on Chinese calligraphy and our continued outreach to Michigan’s large Chinese community,” said Ann Lin, Lieberthal-Rogel Professor of Chinese Studies. and director of the UM Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies.

The calligraphy collection has 72 pieces, dating from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties and the Republican period, including some of the finest examples of Chinese calligraphic works outside of China. The gift also includes several seals, inkstones and other items of Chinese literary culture.

“The addition of the Lo Chia-Lun Collection will transform UMMA’s Asian art program,” said UMMA Director Christina Olsen. “This will significantly deepen UMMA’s Chinese calligraphy collections and add depth and perspective to other UMMA artworks, allowing for a more comprehensive representation of Chinese art for museum visitors.” .

“UMMA is extremely grateful to continue the legacy of the Lo family and to share this rich and beautiful collection with the world.”

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