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The 19th-Century Display of Chinese Art in the Musée Guimet

Date: 9 October 2015 (Wednesday)
Time: 5:00pm
Venue: Room 4.04, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus

In the late 19th century when China was increasingly exposed to European travelers due to the opening of ports and the development of transportation, a number of bourgeois men formed collections of Chinese art in France. One of them was Emile Guimet (1836-1918) who formed his collection in the 1870s and founded the well-known Musée Guimet (Guimet Museum) in Paris in 1889.

This paper explores how Guimet displayed Chinese artifacts and artworks in his museum and how he represented Chinese culture as a whole through different display elements. Analyzing the location, architecture, organization, labeling, and interior design of the institution, I will argue he consciously abandoned the traditional view that China was an exotic and mystic country. Instead, with a scientific and academic approach, Guimet portrayed China as a nation with rich culture and a long history.

Speaker: Janet Wong (MPhil Candidate, Department of Fine Arts, HKU)

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