Art, Archaeology and Museology

This article first appeared in ISAW Newsletter 20 (Winter 2018).

Lillian Tseng, Associate Professor of East Asian Art and Archaeology
Jennifer Chi, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Brooklyn Museum

Several people with laptops and notebooks sit at a large square wooden table in a wood-paneled room. One one wall, a large video screen shows a series of indistinct black-and-white photographs.Lillian Tseng and Jennifer Chi led a graduate seminar at ISAW in the fall of 2017 to explore how museology facilitates the study of art and archaeology in the ancient world. Issues that were examined in depth include the history and development of museums, narrative methodologies that are currently employed with ancient art exhibitions, the role that cultural property plays in the selection of objects for exhibitions and acquisitions, and how digital assets are changing the way we display art. Distinguished guests invited to address different topics were, in alphabetical order, Agnes Hsu-Tang, Annette Juliano, Judith Lerner, Philippe de Montebello, Jack Soultanian and Katherine Tsiang.

Through the guidance of Jennifer Chi, students had a front row seat to the installation of the exhibition, Restoring the Minoans: Sir Arthur Evans and Elizabeth Price, and had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Price, the Turner Prize-winning video artist, and discuss A RESTORATION, which was the centerpiece of the show. In addition, students presented critical reviews of installations at the Brooklyn Museum and had invaluable conversations with the organizing curators.

The seminar successfully bridged the academic and curatorial worlds, helping students understand that visual products can produce and transmit innovative knowledge, not unlike academic work. The course forms part of a larger curricular and programmatic initiative at ISAW to introduce students to museology and the collecting and display of ancient objects and to provide students with the opportunity to gain experience doing curatorial work under the supervision of the ISAW Exhibitions department.

Two women holding papers stand in front of a large panel displaying an article of colorful Asian dress, speaking to other people gathered nearby. Professor Lillian Tseng and Jennifer Chi conducting a seminar at the Brooklyn Museum