Object Lessons from Tibet and the Himalayas

Project lead: Emma Martin (ICP)

Object from Tibet and the Himalayas

This network brings together an inter-disciplinary group of university academics, museum curators and Tibetan specialists interested in the social, political, and historical (often colonial) worlds Tibetan & Himalayan objects and images circulate in. We want to ask new questions of Tibetan and Himalayan objects now in museum collections that do not necessarily focus on the object’s religious significance. We are particularly interested in the historical moments that Tibetan and Himalayan objects were collected in. We ask, how were they understood by those who collected them and by those who lost them? Our collection-led discussions are recorded on the blog.  

Some of our big research questions are: What did Tibetan and Himalayan objects do during moments of historical and political significance? What types of object-based knowledge have been lost, and what has replaced it? How can we recover lost knowledge, and what does this process of recovery mean for museums, academics, and Tibetans? Can we imagine a different kind of ‘Tibet’ for the museum?

This research community is led by Dr Emma Martin (National Museums Liverpool and University of Manchester) in collaboration with Dr Diana Lange (Humboldt University, Berlin), Dr Trine Brox (University of Copenhagen) and Dr Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen (National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen). The network's research lead is currently working with Tibetan colleagues as a consultant curator for the new Tibet Museum, in Dharamshala, India.