On a sunny January Saturday, temperatures at Northwestern’s Arts Circle Drive reached above freezing. Sound like paradise?
For the students, faculty and families that attended the Block Museum’s Winter 2015 Opening Celebration, it was. Over 500 newcomers and well-seasoned members poured into the Block for a penetrating look at how Buddhist art from Kashmir and the Western Himalayas has been collected over the centuries.
Upstairs, guests enjoyed chai, sweets and chief curator-led tours, and for the lucky 200 who flocked to the Block early, a discussion of Kashmir as paradise and show-stopping pieces began at 2:30 p.m.
Excitement for the new exhibitions, Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies and Collecting Culture: Himalaya through the Lens filled the museum’s auditorium to capacity for Rob Linrothe and Sonya Rhie Quintanilla’s conversation on the meanings gained and changed in collecting across cultures. Linrothe wears many hats—he curated Collecting Paradise and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Northwestern with extensive travels and studies in Kashmir and the Himalayas. Quintanilla is the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and her conversation with Linrothe introduced the afternoon’s packed audience to the exhibition’s central themes.
Collectors of Kashmiri Buddhist art—be they from the Western Himalayas or the Western world—opened doors that changed the objects’ meaning. As Linrothe and Quintanilla noted, Collecting Paradise presents us with the chance to walk through these doors and ask questions. What do we see? What are we looking for? Who is implicated? The answers bring together a complex web of monks, temples, collectors and curators that Block Museum visitors can now see in a uniquely visible and accessible way.
The Block Museum will continue exploring these questions through quarter-long programming. Find a full schedule of free public programs and Block Cinema screenings here.