Sophisticated visual analysis is a hallmark of art history and depends on skills acquired through the direct study of objects. These skills must be taught and practiced. Yet as graduate art history curricula have expanded to include training in methodology, historiography, and theory, training in object study has all but disappeared. The problem is exacerbated for students of Chinese art history, whose graduate curricula must also include language courses and related subjects such as religion, literature, and history.
Chinese Object Study Workshops is a program that provides graduate students in Chinese art history an immersive experience in the study of objects. The week-long workshops (Monday-Friday) will help students develop the skills necessary for working with objects, introduce them to conservation issues not readily encountered in typical graduate art history curricula, and familiarize them with important American museum collections.
Each workshop is intended for around ten graduate students, to be selected from across North America and Europe through an open application process. These students will study and work with a team of faculty and curators from the host museum. Eight workshops are planned for the next four years, with two occurring during each academic year.
The program is funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and advised by a steering committee (Jonathan Hay, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU; Stephen Allee, Freer|Sackler; Patricia Berger, University of California, Berkeley; Hui-shu Lee, University of California, Los Angeles; Colin Mackenzie, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Nancy Micklewright, Freer|Sackler). The Freer|Sackler is administering the program.