What began as a temporary exhibit in 2000, has become one of the fundamental galleries of the Berman Museum: Arts of Asia.
Arts of Asia: Sacred & Secular opened on October 27, 2000. This exhibit showcased over one hundred of Berman Museum’s Asiatic artifacts, shining a light on a part of the collection not previously seen. Artifacts included “bronze statues of Buddha and other religious figures from Tibet and India, Chinese cloisonné, Southeast Asian ritual masks, Japanese bronzes, and Korean textiles.” The Alabama Humanities Foundation cosponsored exhibit programming.
Although the exhibit was scheduled to end on September 3, 2001, fate had different plans. In 2000, former curator Robert Lindley met a pair of Chinese immigrants and collectors, Oliver and Pei-Hwa Foo, in Atlanta at Scotts Antique Show. Both of the Foos felt the meeting was “karma or destiny” and decided to donate a portion of their collection to the Berman Museum. The Foo’s daughter, Sheng-Sheng, joined as a donor in 2008, and another daughter, Hsin-Hsin, joined in 2011. As of 2021, the entire Foo family has donated over one thousand pieces to the Berman Museum.
With the acquisition of these unique Asiatic pieces, Arts of Asia became a permanent gallery of the Berman Museum. After the death of Pei-Hwa in 2011, the gallery was dedicated The Oliver and Pei-Hwa Foo Asian Art Gallery to honor the patronage of the couple.
Arts of Asia has undergone many changes throughout the years, with the addition of new pieces yearly. Today, it showcases items from across the Asiatic world, dating as far back as 1600 B.C. Guests may see items of jade and ivory, ancient textiles, and a Samurai uniform.