The University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor has received the largest donation of art in its history. Valued at more than $12 million, the gift of Chinese calligraphy comes from the family of Lo Chia-Lun, a student leader in China’s 1919 May Fourth Movement who died in 1969.
Lo, who himself was a calligrapher and poet, held prominent government posts and served as the president of two major Chinese universities. The gift includes 72 works of calligraphy from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties as well as from the Republican Period. The works span the early 14th century to the mid-20th century.
Among the master calligraphers represented in the gift are Yang Weizhen, Wang Shouren, Wen Zhengming, and Wang Duo. Also included are pieces by important Chinese cultural leaders after the 1911 Revolution, among them Cai Yuanpei, Chen Duxiu, and Shen Yinmo. The donation also features objects related to the making of calligraphy, like seals and ink stones.
In a statement, museum’s director Christina Olsen called the gift “transformative,” adding that “it will significantly deepen UMMA’s holdings of Chinese calligraphy and will add depth and perspective to other UMMA artworks, enabling a more complete portrayal of Chinese art for museum visitors.”
The gift builds on the Lo family’s longstanding relationship with the university, which date backs almost a century, which also includes previous gifts of Chinese art. Lo Chia-Lun’s wife Djang Wei-djen, earned a master’s degree in political science at U-M in 1927 on a Barbour Scholarship, which was established in 1917 to fund the studies of female students from Asia and the Middle East. The couple’s two daughters, Jiu-Fong Lo Chang and Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur, also attended U-M as Barbour Scholars.
Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur has previously endowed a scholarship in her father’s name and paid internships at the university museum. The calligraphy gift officially comes from Jiu-Fong Lo Chang and her husband Kuei-sheng Chang, who also attended U-M.
“This gift honors not only the legacy of my father, but it also recognizes our family’s deep roots at Michigan and our gratitude for the opportunities U-M afforded us at a time when few Chinese students had the privilege of studying abroad,” Jiu-Fong Lo Chang said in a statement.