The Museum's first, formal recognition of Asian art came in 1900 when it established a Department of Oriental Pottery, with Mrs. Jones Wister serving as honorary curator. At that time all other specificed departments,which consisted of numismatics, Euorpean porcelain, arms and armor, and musical instruments also operated under the auspices of honorary curators with Dalton Dorr serving as the Museum's sole curator. The Museum began appointing curators to its different areas of study and collecting in 1923. Having come to the Museum as an assistant two years earlier, Horace H. F. Jayne received the 1923 appointment of Curator of Oriental Art. (Paintings, lace and old Pennsylvania pottery were the other curatorial positions.)
Over the next 70 years, the department's title changed, and its purview at certain periods included not only Chinese and Japanese objects, but Indian and Persian as well. In 1992, the department took on its current designation of "East Asian Art," with Felice Fischer serving as the Associate Curator. Ms. Fischer came to the Museum as a curatorial assistant in 1972 when the department was designated Far Eastern Art. In 1997 an endowment allowed the Museum to name Ms. Fischer as the Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art, a position she continues to hold. Other curatorial positions within the department concentrate on Chinese and Korean art.