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Splendid Threads, Secret Messages: The Language of Japanese Kimonos






The Muskegon Museum of Art will open a new exhibition, Splendid Threads, Secret Messages: The Language of Japanese Kimonos, on Thursday, October 21.

The exhibition provides an introduction to the world of Japanese kimonos. Symbolic messages are hidden in their exquisite decoration, and traditions from the past still dictate how they are worn today. While Westerners readily recognize this garment and its country of origin, our knowledge generally stops there. Closer examination can provoke many questions, such as:
Do all those birds, flowers, and fans really mean something?
Why are some of the sleeves so very long?
Why are jackets for men only decorated on the inside?
Who can wear red and who should not?

Hidden in the design details are messages of love, honor, longevity, faithfulness, and more. Kimonos, while similar in style, can reveal through pattern, color, and fabric social status, age, the season of the year, and other aspects of daily life. This selection of more than a dozen garments covers a range of traditional clothing from children’s wear to bridal robes and men’s attire to resort apparel. Today kimonos are worn primarily for festivals and celebrations, but they remain icons of Japanese culture. Admire their beauty and explore their details.

Splendid Threads was organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art with the assistance of guest curator Patricia Wade. The kimonos are on loan from John and Etta Hesselink, West Michigan collectors who lived in Japan for many years. The exhibition is sponsored by the Van Kampen Boyer Molinari Foundation, the Judith Van Kampen Foundation, and Blue Lake Public Radio. Program support provided in part by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.


Thursday, October 21
5:30 pm Opening Reception

Asian style hors doeuvres, wine, tea, and punch will be served. A $5 donation is suggested. Open to the public.
7:00 pm Program: “How to Wear a Kimono”
After an introduction by guest curator Patricia Wade, Mayumi Balfour will dress, wrap, and unravel the complexity and mystery of the Japanese kimono. Free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 28, 6:30 pm
Lecture: Japanese Films

Calvin College Professor Peggy Goetz will present a fascinating look at iconic Japanese films. Free and open to the public.

November 7, 2:00 pm
Cinema Sunday Film

Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)
Japanese with English subtitles
A rag-tag troupe of traveling actors arrives in an isolated port to rustle up an audience for their samurai folk tales and backstage intrigue ensues.

November 13, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Japan Super Saturday

Learn about Japanese culture with activities, a film, and guided tours of the kimono exhibition. Free family fun day.

November 14, 2:00 pm
Cinema Sunday Film

Princess Raccoon (Operetta tanuki-goten)
Japanese with English subtitles
Supernatural musical tells the story of a couple star-crossed lovers.



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