Art Museums: Whose Culture are they Representing?

Ms Dianne McGowan
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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
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Ms Dianne McGowan

Doctoral candidate, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University

Dianne returns to study after taking three years out to start a commercial art gallery in Sydney. She is a product of the ANU system, gaining a BSc (Psychology major) /BA Hons (Anthropology major) in 2000. She joined the CCR in late February 2003. Dianne's research interests include religions, ritual practices and ritual art. She is particularly interested in how religious practices are propagated outside of their indigenous base and the transformation of ritual objects into valuable art.

Ref: H05P0228