The Clarence Buckingham Gallery of Japanese Prints honors the early and intense commitment of Chicagoan Clarence Buckingham (1854–1913) to the Art Institute. Beginning in the 1890s, Buckingham, assisted by advisors such as curator Frederick W. Gookin and architect Frank Lloyd Wright, assembled a collection of Japanese woodblock prints of exceptional quality and range.
One year after Buckingham’s death, his collection was lent to the Art Institute. His sister, Kate, continued to acquire works, and in 1925 she formally gave the prints to the museum, along with an endowment to maintain and expand the collection. The original group of about 2,500 works has grown through purchases and gifts to more than 16,000.
Because prints are works on paper, they are susceptible to fading with exposure to light. Therefore, the artwork in this gallery is changed every three months, and the lighting is maintained at a low level to protect the prints.