You are here

Ideas of Asia in the Museum

An international symposium jointly organized by the USC Department of Art History and the Department of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

January 23, 2015 12:00am to January 24, 2015 12:00am

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, 9-4pm 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, 9-6pm  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 Taish? 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