Mary Griggs Burke

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Mary Griggs Burke (June 20, 1916 – December 8, 2012) was an American art collector. Over fifty years, Burke acquired the largest private collection of Japanese art outside Japan.[1] Her collection grew so large that she housed it in a separate apartment adjacent to her own on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[1] In 1985, portions of her collection were exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum, becoming the first Western collection of Japanese art to be displayed at the museum.[1]


Burke was born Mary Livingston Griggs in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 20, 1916, to Theodore W. Griggs and Mary Steele Livingston.[1] Her mother was the grandniece of Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley, the first Governor of Minnesota.[2] Her maternal grandfather, Crawford Livingston, and paternal grandfather, Col. Chauncey Griggs, were early leaders in the city of St. Paul who both profited handsomely from banking and railroads.[1][2]

Burke received her bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1938 and earned a Master's degree in clinical psychology from Columbia University.[1] She married the typeface designer Jackson Burke in 1955.[3]

The government of Japan awarded her the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1987.[1]

Mary Griggs Burke died at her home in Manhattan, New York City, on December 8, 2012, at the age 96.[1] She was a widow, as her husband Jackson Burke, whom she married in 1955, died in 1975.[2] Her vast collection of Japanese art was divided between the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts following her death, as she had announced previously in 2006.[1][2] On March 16, 2015 the two museums jointly announced the details of their respective bequests.[4][5]

In addition to her home in New York City, she kept a winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida and a second house in Cable, Wisconsin.[2]



External links[edit]

Media related to Mary Griggs Burke at Wikimedia Commons