In this episode, we speak with Dr. Rebecca Bloom about her beginnings as a scholar and curator of Himalayan Buddhist art history, the meaning of "art" in a Buddhist context, and why she thinks studying art history is valuable for people interested in Buddhism. She also gives a behind-the-scenes look at how museum curators organize exhibitions, and talks about why she loves this kind of work.
We also preview her upcoming online course, BS 109 | Introduction to Buddhist Art, which will explore these issues in more depth!
Dr. Rebecca Bloom is Diane P. Stewart Assistant Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Southern Utah Museum of Art. She is a scholar and curator who specializes in Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist material culture, and issues surrounding the intersection of religion and museums. She holds a BA in Art History and Religion from Middlebury College, an MA in Asian Religions from Yale Divinity School, and she recently received her PhD from the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies.
Dr. Bloom began her career at the Rubin Museum of Art, where she curated and co-curated more than a dozen exhibitions of Tibetan and Himalayan art, as well as contemporary and historical photography. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, she co-curated a multi-year exhibition of Buddhist art entitled Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia, for which she designed the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room and created the related app, Sacred Spaces. Assembly of the Exalted: The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, coauthored with Donald S. Lopez, Jr., focuses on the shrine’s history and its objects. Dr. Bloom also contributed to a multi-disciplinary project dedicated to the pilgrimage of the eighth-century, Korean monk, Hyecho. The project produced two apps, a website, and a book that each explore the world of Buddhism Hyecho encountered on his journey, with special attention paid to Buddhist material culture.
Links discussed in episode