Art Museums: Whose Culture are they Representing?
When representing the material objects of non-European cultures, art museums have used the same aesthetic values that govern western art. This 'traditional' manner of representation is beginning to be questioned. In this paper, I focus on the exhibiting of Tibetan Art in the United States, where contemporary exhibitions of this art are 'blockbuster' events. A century ago Tibetan Art did not exist. By examining the rise of this art form and the impact of the transformation of Tibetan Buddhist ritual objects into art, I discuss the politics of institutional 'representation'. This leads inevitably to the question, whose culture are art museums representing?
Keywords: Representation, Art museums, Tibetan Art, Identity, Collections
Ms Dianne McGowan
Doctoral candidate, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University