Curating Buddhism: Reimagining Buddhist Statues in a Museum and Temple Setting
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This thesis considers whether a Buddhist statue in a museum context can be both aesthetic and devotional. By reexamining the relationship between a devotional object, its surrounding space, and its viewer, this thesis will suggest how a museum gallery, though not a consecrated ritual space, can still potentially be a place for spiritual engagement akin to a religious sanctuary. Through a comparison of Gallery 16 of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco and Mengjia Longshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan as a case study in terms of their spaces and the movement of people within the space in relation to the objects, this thesis will consider how Buddhist statues may continue to exist as spiritual objects and works of aesthetic appreciation without losing their past as devotional icons, and I will do this by applying Victor Turner’s concepts of liminality and the liminoid.