Paper short abstract:
Asian Museums in Italy were founded following XIX°/XX° centuries cultural paradigms. Rethinking the missions of museums will help to cope changing socioeconomic, cultural and political patterns
Paper long abstract:
Museums reflect a vision of the world, how societies and cultures think themselves and the 'Other'. The Museums of oriental art, proposing a vision of different cultures, fully reflect this approach.
Few museums in Italy are fully devoted to oriental arts. Two of them (Museo Chiossone in Genoa and the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice) were established on the collections of XIX° century travellers and collectors. The Museum of Oriental Art in Trieste was founded on collections created by trade contacts between the city and Asia. The former Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale in Rome (a state museum, the main one in Italy on oriental art) was founded following a project of scientific researches and archaeological investigations. The Museum of Oriental Art in Turin (opened in 2008), was created with a clear aesthetic approach.
Most of the Museums of oriental art in Italy now goes through a period of crisis: little public, very few activities. The situation is in part created by problems of budget, anyway affecting the whole museums' system. The former Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale in Rome has been recently closed and moved to become part of a wider Museum of Civilization. The real reason for this situation is the crisis of a cultural model of representation of Asia, no longer responsive to changing socioeconomic, cultural and political patterns.
In order to cope this changes the Museum of Oriental Art in Turin rethought its mission and activities, offering to the public different approaches to Asian cultures and arts.
Museums of Asian Arts outside Asia: Questioning Artefacts, Cultures and Identities