Mei Mei RADO 梅玫
Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture 巴德裝飾藝術研究院

Textiles and Early Modern Global Exchanges: European Silks and Tapestries in the Qing Palaces

Focusing on two recent special exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on which I have worked-Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800 (2013) and China: Through the Looking Glass (2015), my talk will provide an in-depth examination on the themes of global intercultural exchanges in textile and fashion exhibitions. These two landmark exhibitions reflected the latest academic trend and exemplified the most innovative curatorial approaches to textiles and fashion, the presentations and studies of which remain relatively marginal in museums and in the academic field of art history.

While introducing the curatorial planning, objects, gallery designs, and audience's experiences associated with these two exhibitions, I will probe a series of questions, such as, how did these exhibitions enrich the traditional curatorial approaches with an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural one, and why is this approach particularly relevant to textile and fashion history? How was China represented in these exhibitions and how a global perspective of China offers new analytical angles to Chinese art? How do the exhibition designs for textiles and fashion find a balance in meeting conservation requirements, displaying the objects' artistic quality and technical virtuosity, and presenting theoretical narratives? In the end of my talk, I will also briefly address some criticism and controversies on the transcultural themes in fashion and textile exhibitions, especially in the American context, with an aim to triggering further discussions on how museums handle culturally sensitive issues.