Symposium : Ideas of Asia in the Museum, 23-24 janvier 2015

Ideas of Asia in the Museum

An International Symposium

University of Southern California and Los Angeles County Museum of Art

January 23–24, 2015



Since its inception in eighteenth-century Europe, the museum has provided modern societies with a powerful tool to display and define cultures of their own and those from around the world. This international symposium will bring together a group of distinguished scholars and museum curators to examine the collecting and display of Asian art in relation to conceptualizations of Asia that gained currency in the cultural and geopolitical milieu of modernity. The dual focus allows for in-depth inquiries into interregional and intraregional connections that manifested in the workings of the art market, museological practices, and art-historical discourses across Europe, the Americas, and Asia from the nineteenth century to the present day. It will also facilitate discussions of how ideas of Asia have contributed to the development of specific museum collections, and conversely, how museums have helped generate new ideas about the region in the public domain through exhibition, education, and research.

Through six panels and one roundtable, the speakers at this symposium will take up topics that remain little explored in the literature or reconsidering current debates with new approaches, all with the aim to explore the mechanisms and meanings in representing Asia through assemblages of objects inside the museum. As the organizers and many of the participants are based at universities, museums, and research centers in Southern California, another goal of this event is to highlight the important role of the U.S. West Coast in shaping the history of Asian art collections.


The symposium is jointly organized by the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California and the Department of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is generously supported by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, with additional support from Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The event celebrates the new partnership of the Pacific Asia Museum with the University of Southern California.

For further information, please contact Sonya S. Lee at


Symposium Program and Schedule


Day One

Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., January 23, 2015

University of Southern California


Panel One: Redefining the Boundaries of Asia

Sonya S. Lee, University of Southern California

Central Asia Coming to the Museum: The Display of Kucha Mural Fragments in Interwar Germany


Alexander Nagel, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Curating Monuments, Museums and Cultural Heritage in Iran: Archives, Displays, and Identities


Ja Won Lee, University of California, Los Angeles

Visualizing the Past: O Sech’ang’s Art Collection and the Antiquarian Movement in Early Twentieth-Century Korea


Discussant: Julia Orell, Getty Research Institute


Panel Two: Nationalism in the Museum

Virginia Moon, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Curation of Korea’s National Treasures


Ya-hwei Hsu, National Taiwan University

Receptions of the Ding-Tripod during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)


Patricia J. Graham, Independent Scholar

Langdon Warner’s Vision for the Japanese Collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1930-1935

Discussant: Sunyoung Park, University of Southern California


Panel Three: Colonialism and Collecting

Alexandra Green, The British Museum

From India to Independence: The Formation of the Burma Collection at the British Museum


Tushara Bindu Gude, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Collecting Tibet: Art, Buddhism, and Politics


Adele Di Ruocco, Independent Scholar

Archaeological Discoveries and Collecting Practices in Russia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century


Discussant: Saloni Mathur, University of California, Los Angeles


Reception at USC Pacific Asia Museum



Day Two

Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., January 24, 2015

Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Panel Four: The U.S.-China Exchange

Daisy Yiyou Wang, Peabody Essex Museum

A Thousand Graces: Charles L. Freer and Collecting Chinese Buddhist Art in Early Twentieth-Century America


Dominic Cheung, University of Southern California

From Spice to Flora and Fauna––Botanical Science Illustrations and Chinese Pith Paper Paintings


Noelle Giuffrida, Case Western Reserve University

Landscapes of Opportunity in Postwar America: Sherman E. Lee’s 1954 Chinese Landscape Painting in Cleveland


Discussant: Peter Sturman, University of California, Santa Barbara


Panel Five: Framing the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Florina Capistrano-Baker, Ayala Museum

Trophies of Trade: Collecting 19th-century Sino-Filipino Export Paintings


Melody Rod-ari, Norton Simon Museum

The Pacific Rim, Connecting Peoples, Collecting Histories: The Formation of South and Southeast Asian art collections in Los Angeles


Julie Romain, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Art of the Jeweled Isle: Collecting and Exhibiting Sri Lanka in the Encyclopedic Museum


Discussant: Alka Patel, University of California, Irvine


Panel Six: Asia and the Americas

Sofía Sanabrais, Independent Scholar

Collecting “Asia” in Latin America


Bert Winther-Tamaki, University of California, Irvine

American Patronage and the Woody Japanese Aesthetic of “Creative Prints” (Sôsaku Hanga) of Postwar Japan


Stephen Little, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Reception of Japanese Meiji and Taishō Paintings in the United States


Discussant: Hollis Goodall, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Final Roundtable


Linda Komaroff, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Hyung Il Pai, University of California, Santa Barbara

Christina Yu, University of Southern California


Moderator: Robert Brown, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and University of California, Los Angeles

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