Interest in the arts of the orient had been keen from the time of the International Exposition and the founding of the Museum.
The first Curator of Oriental Art was Horace H. F. Jayne, a scholar in the field, who came as an Assistant in 1921. From 1923 until 1927 he was the Curator of Oriental Art. In 1927 he became the Chief of the Division of Eastern Art, which he remained until 1936; from 1931 until 1940 he was the Curator of Chinese Art as well. In 1928 Jayne and his Assistant, Isobel Ingram, went to China and Japan to purchase major architectural objects for the Museum, among these were the Japanese Tea House and Temple, a Chinese Temple and Palace Hall. Jayne was also a Director of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to PMA in 1953 as Acting Chief of the Division of Eastern Art until 1954.
From 1931 to 1954 W. Norman Brown was the Curator of Indian Art when it was associated with Eastern Art. Erich Schmidt, from 1931 to 1933, was the Field Director of the Expedition to Persia. Assistants following Ingram were Philip Harding Cate and Lawrence P. Roberts.
Jean Gordon Lee came to PMA in 1939 as an Assistant in the Division of Eastern Art. In 1942 she was Assistant Curator of Eastern Art, in 1944 she was made an Associate Curator of Eastern Art and in 1947 became the Curator of Chinese Art. From 1949 she was Acting Chief of the Division of Eastern Art as well as the Curator of Chinese Art. In 1955 she became the Curator of the Department of Far Eastern Art until she retired in June 1986. Felice Fischer assumed the position of Assistant Curator in the department in 1974. In 1992, the department took on its current designation of "East Asian Art," with Felice Fischer serving as the Associate Curator. In 1997 the Museum to named Ms. Fischer as the Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art, a position she continues to hold.