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Japanese Prints from the
Special Collections Division

Sakai Sakai Hōitsu, et al. Illustration from Shiki no Hana (Flowers of the Four Seasons) Volume 1 (Spring), 1908. Woodblock print. Special Collections Division, Newark Public Library.

Curated by Nadine Sergejeff
Main Library, Second Floor Gallery
5 Washington St., Newark, NJ

April 18 – August 30, 2016


Impressions of the Natural World is an exhibition of Japanese prints and ehon (illustrated books) from the Special Collections Division. The impressive sampling of kachō-ga, (pictures of birds and flowers) is drawn entirely from the holdings of the Special Collections Division of the Newark Public Library.

The Newark Public Library began collecting Japanese prints during the early 20th century under the directorship of John Cotton Dana, whose own collection consisted of hundreds of Japanese prints. In March of 1905, John Cotton Dana arranged an exhibit of Japanese prints at the Newark Public Library. The accompanying catalogue, written by Dana, described the process of creating a woodblock print in great detail, and also educated the reader about perspective, subject matter, and history. Over the years, the Newark Public Library has presented at least thirteen exhibitions of Japanese prints.

The number of Japanese prints at the Newark Public Library proceeded to increase as a result of significant donations from collectors in the city. For instance, in 1925, William F. Hoffman gave an assortment of over 200 prints from the 18th and 19th centuries. John Cotton Dana was a passionate advocate of art—he believed that by acquiring and displaying Japanese art and books about Japan, Newarkers could learn about the culture of contemporary Japan.

The Newark Public Library continues to acquire Japanese prints in its Special Collections Division due to the continued generosity of one donor in particular, Mr. William J. Dane, who was the former Keeper of Prints at the Library. Today, the Library’s collection of Japanese art consists of over 500 prints, 500 ehon, scrolls, stencils, woodblocks, tools, and hundreds of books about Japanese prints and art in general.

The exhibit and related programming aim to explain Japanese printmaking traditions, to expose and promote the Library’s exceptional collection, and to develop interest in Japanese art and culture. The show coincides with the county's celebrated Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park and the 350th Anniversary of the City of Newark.

A significant portion of this exhibit and related programming have been made possible by The Japan Foundation.

Image Gallery

First page of an exhibition catalogue written by John Cotton Dana in 1925.

Opening Reception

Thursday, April 21, 6:00–7:30pm
6:30pm – Gallery Talk by the curator
Main Library, Second Floor Gallery

Featuring an overview about collecting at the Newark Public Library, mokuhanga, kachō-ga, and information about selected works featured in the exhibit.


April Vollmer
April Vollmer. Courtesy of Dempsey Rice.

Mokuhanga Lecture & Workshop with April Vollmer
Saturday, May 21, 2:00–4:00pm
Main Library, Centennial Hall

The noted mokuhanga artist April Vollmer will present a lecture and demonstration of the woodblock printing process. Participants will be able to try printing from woodblocks. April Vollmer is the author of Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop (2015) and has exhibited throughout the world. The artist also teaches printing workshops in New York City. To learn more about the artist, please visit

Jennifer Mack-Watkins
Jennifer Mack-Watkins. Courtesy of CMOM.

"Mokuhanga and Me" Children's Workshop
Saturday, June 4, 2:00–3:30pm
Main Library, Centennial Hall

Artist Jennifer Mack-Watkins will present a workshop for children ages 7+. Children will create a block print inspired by Kawaii pop culture and will use tools and printing techniques similar to mokuhanga. Jennifer’s artwork has been exhibited at the Lower East Side Print Shop, the Newark Museum, and the Center for the Science of Human Endeavor in Tokyo. To learn more about the artist, please visit

The workshop is limited to 20 participants, please call 973-733-7793 to register.

Generous support has been provided by the Japan Foundation, which has enabled the Library to purchase additional art work, to prepare an exhibition catalogue, and to offer programming.

Japan Foundation

Impressions of the Natural World will be on view in the Main Library's Second Floor Gallery from April 18 through September 6, 2016. The exhibition and related programs are free and open to the general public during regular library hours, Monday through Saturday. For additional information, please visit, or contact the Special Collections Division through email at:, or by calling 973–733–7745.

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