William Sturgis Bigelow

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  • Born: 1850
  • Died: 1926

William Sturgis Bigelow was one of a handful of prominent New Englanders to travel to Japan in the Meiji period, and to bring back objects which would form the cores of New England's major museum collections of Japanese art.

Bigelow was born to a wealthy Boston family, and attended Harvard University, graduating in 1874. After meeting Edward Sylvester Morse and having Morse stay with him for roughly one month, he traveled with Morse in 1882 to Japan. Bigelow would stay in Japan for seven years, during which time he collected roughly 40,000 objects of Japanese art. Following his return to the United States, he donated these objects to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, contributing alongside Morse, Ernest Fenollosa, and a few others, to the establishment of that museum's extensive collection, the largest collection of Japanese works under one roof anywhere in the world.