The Museum's holdings of non-Western art have been developed almost entirely through donations and include artworks from East, South and Southeast Asia, as well as Africa, Oceania and Pre-Columbian Meso- and South America. These collections were started shortly after the Museum's founding. Two early supporters, Julius Carlebach and Samuel Eilenberg, played major roles in this development. Carlebach was a New York art dealer who encouraged his clients to donate to the Museum. Eilenberg was a New York collector who made numerous significant donations of South and Southeast Asian art and also introduced other collectors to the Museum who subsequently became donors.
Particular strengths in the different collections include eighty early Buddhist stone sculptures from ancient Gandhara and over 300 Indian Hindu bronze devotional statuettes and stone reliefs from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Numerous colored woodblock prints from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries form a part of the Japanese collection. Over 125 wooden sculptures from west equatorial Africa and about fifty works from New Guinea and surrounding islands form collections of representative material. The Museum's holdings of Pre-Columbian objects from Mesoamerica and Peru are particularly strong in ceramics, numbering some 400 items, but also include over 150 remarkable textiles and featherwork pieces.
The material illustrated here is only a small fraction of this rich and multi-faceted collection.