The Discovery of China's Prehistory & the Birth of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
A talk by Magnus Fiskesjö, director of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
A222 Fowler Museum
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (MFEA) dates back to 1926, when the museum was established as a national institution. Foremost among its creators was its founding director, Johan Gunnar Andersson, the Swedish archaeologist and geologist whose name is inextricably linked with the history of Chinese archaeology, and who also worked briefly in Hong Kong and in Vietnam in the 1930s. Southeast Asian archaeologists are also familiar with another Swedish scholar closely connected with the MFEA, Olov Janse, who worked in Vietnam and in the Philippines in the 1930s and 1940s. Other outstanding MFEA scholars and past benefactors include the famous sinologist Bernhard Karlgren and the late King Gustaf VI Adolf.
In 1963, the museum, which long had lacked a proper home, opened in remodeled facilities in a stunning site in the center of the city, on the island of Skeppsholmen. The core MFEA collections of archaeological materials from China's Neolithic and Bronze Age were amalgamated with the outstanding collections of Chinese painting and sculpture from the National Museum, the national Swedish art museum. Today, the MFEA holds nearly 100,000 objects, mainly in archaeology and art, from China as well as from Japan, Korea, India, and Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.
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The scholarly work of Dr. Magnus Fiskesjö is a paragron of “border-crossing” in virtually all senses: its subjects span several millennia and many lands (China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.) as well as an unusually wide variety of topics, from royal hunting and state formation in Shang China, to Wa (Burmese) rice beer. Among his most recent publications is a treatise on the ritual acts of U.S. presidential pardoning, The Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, The Death of Teddy’s Bear, and the Sovereign Exception of Guantánamo (Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004).
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