Corporate information

Company name

The Tolman Collection


Norman H. Tolman



Gallery Address

2-2-18 Shiba Daimon, Minato-ku Tokyo, 105-0012


445 Fifth Ave, New York New York 10016

Phone numbers

Tokyo 03-3434-1300/ New York (1) 212 -489-7696

Business Activities

Majoring in the sales and and distribution of Contemporary Japanese Prints, on a world-wide basis through exhibitions both in our gallery itself as well as large scale public exhibitions all around the world.

Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission


Norman H. Tolman - Chronological History


Born – Boston, Mass. on July 12 (one of four children)


Raised by mother and 11-year older sister.
From age 7, became a newspaper delivery boy.


Graduated from High school, Watertown, Mass.


Joined US Air Force (Korean War Veteran) visited Japan for the first time in the military.
Selected as 1/40 of 400-person squad to study Chinese at Yale University.


US Air Force Duty, in Taiwan, and Tokyo
Served in Japan, then worked at NSA, Washington D.C.


Married in D.C – Mary Spellman (Two children- Allison b.1959, Hilary b.1964)


Graduated from Univ. of California (B.A.- Asian languages)


Yale Univ. (M.A.-Asian Studies)


Fulbright Scholarship – Tokyo Univ. and IUC, Tokyo


Returned to USA and entered Ph.D. program at Graduate school, Univ. of California, Berkeley

1967 - 72(31-years-old - 36-years-old)

Joined US foreign service, served in Hong Kong, Yokohama, Tokyo, Sapporo and Kyoto.
Left diplomatic career, and formed The Tolman Collection with Mary Tolman
Became very friendly with Saito Kiyoshi on a private level.
Having left foreign service to form an art gallery, the Tolmans also wrote for the English-language Mainichi Daily News. They released, on alternate weeks, “Behind the Scene” with “Japanophiles” for 5 years.


Produced the first major exhibition for Toko Shinoda at The Zojoji Temple in Tokyo.

Starting with the determination of independence, Tolman left his diplomatic life and based on a great amount of personal recognition started The Tolman Collection at a special residence in Suginami-ku, Tokyo. Guests were welcomed on Sunday afternoons for light refreshment, a chance to meet the famous artists, and of course the opportunity to make purchases of their works.

The comfort of purchasing art works from Mr/Mrs. Tolman who were so well-connected to the artists made the new gallery a great success. Moving to Iikura-Katamachi right in the center of “Gaijin Tokyo” provided easy access to the Tolman’s gallery, and there ensued a time of constant growth in the popularity of the artists whose works they handled. Although Tolman often met Saito Sensei it was never for busines, only like meeting and old friend for dinner and discussions.

On frequent international trips Mr. Tolman established a wide network of galleries who relied on him to provide the works of the artists whom he selected. Then came the natural growth of the gallery which now handles the works of some four dozen artists coupled with frequent regular exhibitions in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Melbourne, Paris and throughout the United States made “The Tolman Name” equal to “Contemporary Japanese Art” in the print world all around the world.

As the years went on, the Tolman Collection offered special exhibitions everywhere. At the famous Rotunda in Hong Kong, at major galleries in Melbourne, and even as far as Kazakhstan the Tolman Collection has become well known. Continued gift-giving to special places like Yale, Smith College, the University of Maryland, The Smithsonian, LACMA abroad, continuing with The Hara Museum in Tokyo where Mr. Tolman became a trustee for 10 years. He also produced there a Toko Shinoda Exhibition for which Her Majesty, The Empress, aided in borrowing his Majesty’s painting for public display for the first time Mr.Tolman was always able to come up with ideas of showing Japanese art where others had not even thought about it.

The Tolman collection held numerous major shows at museums and various venues throughout Japan and abroad. Based in Tokyo and New York, the gallery participated in international art fairs, introducing original prints and paintings many of which were exclusively made for The Tolman Collection over the years.