Accepted Paper:

Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum: a platform for the conservation, exchange, performance and promotion of living Asian puppet theatre traditions  


Robin Ruizendaal (Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The museum has a complete collection of Asian theatre puppets, focusing on China and Taiwan. In my role as western director, curating this heritage offers insights in ideas of Taiwanese and Chinese cultural identities and presents a traditional performing art to young Asians and worldwide audiences.

Paper long abstract:

The Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum (formerly the Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum) has a collection of over 10.000 puppets from all major Asian traditions. The museum has a small 80-seat theatre and a puppet theatre company: the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company. The latter performing both traditional Taiwanese and modern productions in over 50 countries around the world. A catalogue of the museum collection "Asian Theatre Puppets" was published by Thames and Hudson in 2009. This paper will chart the process of creating a museum platform for the inter-Asian exchange of knowledge.

The aim of the museum is to create links with both the living traditions in Asia, i.e. the local puppet theatre companies and related institutions that are concerned with the preservation of the Asian theatrical heritage. The museum aims to conserve the material puppet culture and has a specialized conservation department that develops specific ways of conserving theatre puppets. Working closely with international experts and other museums, such as the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok. Interns from SOAS and around the world spent time at the museum to learn basic conservation skills.

The museum regularly exhibits parts of its collections and works with other Asian countries in planning and exchanging exhibitions and related knowledge. The museum attempt to regularly produce bi-lingual (Chinese/English) publications related to exhibitions and performances. In 2016, the book "Potehi: Glove Puppet Theatre in Southeast Asia and Taiwan" was published as part of an exhibition and conference, with participants from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan.

Panel P006
Museums of Asian Arts outside Asia: Questioning Artefacts, Cultures and Identities