Japanese garden as seen from the new entrance foyer.

The Johnson Art Museum, at Cornell University, had the grand opening of its new wing Saturday. Being in the area and not having visited it before, I went to see their collection.

I tried to avoid flash, and most of my handheld pictures came out too blurry to use, The museum does have an excellent Asian collection, and I was also very intrigued by some of the cut paper work in the lowest level. Most of my attempts to photograph anything indoors, however, were failures.

The small stones represent the water in the gorge.

While I enjoyed all of the museum, I found myself most drawn to the Japanese garden just off the new entrance. The museum as a whole has a great deal of Asian art, including a new scroll, Three Laughers of the Tiger Glen. To quote from the Museum’s newsletter:

“One day the Daoist priest Lu Xiujing and the Confucian poet Tao Yuanming visited the Buddhist monk Huiyuan, who had become a recluse and vowed never to leave his mountain temple. As they concluded their visit toether, the three friends became so caught up in conversation that Huiyuan inadvertently crossed the bridge over the Tiger Glen, a ravine that formed the boundary of the temple precinct. As soon as they realized what had happened, the men burst into laughter at the absurdity of this transgression. The parable teaches that true wisdom is gained when boundaries of difference are overcome through mutual understanding. ”

Museum Lobby

The scroll shows the three men laughing together at the end of the bridge. But the design of the Japanese garden also follows this story, with three upright rocks for the three men, the cleft in the field of moss for the gorge, and the plank bridge over the cleft.

The opening was well attended, with activities such as brush painting for the children. Too bad more of my pictures didn’t come out better.