The Kinsey Chanoyu Collection

The gift of nearly two hundred objects in the Kinsey Chanoyu Collection stems from Gregory Kinsey’s lifelong devotion to the practice of chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony. A former trustee of the Freer and Sackler, Kinsey has offered his collection to the museum for the express purpose of using the collection’s utensils in public programs and events focusing on the traditional preparation of tea.

Due to their historical and artistic significance, fifteen pieces are being accessioned into the Freer’s permanent collection. Complete with historical names, textiles, boxes, documents, and pedigrees of ownership, these selected objects complement the material components and history of similar works, such as the tea-leaf storage jar Chigusa, a work of extraordinary cultural importance now in the Freer Gallery collection. Consequently, these objects will not be used in tea demonstrations.

A second set of 167 pieces, however, is being accessioned into the Freer Study Collection and will be used in public demonstrations of chanoyu—a milestone achievement for the museum’s collection. The objects include hanging scrolls of tea-related calligraphy and painting; ceramic tea bowls, powdered tea containers, and water jars; cast iron kettles and braziers; lacquer containers for powdered tea, trays, and sets of utensils for serving food; textile items; and bamboo tea scoops and vases. The objects destined for the Study Collection include works of historical importance, as well as modern and contemporary accoutrements for the tea ceremony, that will enable us to showcase the breadth and variety of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. This unprecedented gift enables visitors to encounter tea utensils on view in the galleries and to enjoy the sensory experiences of touch, smell, and taste.

Black tea bowl
Tea bowl, named Buji, with storage box and wrapping cloth
Japan, Edo period, mid-18th Century
Earthenware with Black Raku glaze
The Kinsey Chanoyu Collection, Gift of Gregory Kinsey