Departmental Bulletin Paper Cultural Divide : Japanese Art in Australia (1868−2012)


Australia has had a long and tumultuous relationship with Japan, but unlikeother Western countries it has culturally benefited less from this relationship.This is reflected in the history of public art museum collections and exhibitionsof Japanese art in Australia. In this history, precedence has been given toEuropean and especially British art and its contemporary Euro-Americanmanifestation over cultural traditions such as that of Japan, a preference thathas limited understanding of Japanese culture in Australia. Australian artmuseums began collecting Japanese art at the beginning of the Meiji period.However, despite important Japanese art works being acquired by Australianart museums, a lack of informed curatorship of these collections has resultedin neglect in collection research, development and exhibition. Fundamentalto this problem is the Euro-American bias of art history curriculums inAustralian schools and universities that has resulted in few Australian trainedJapanese cultural interpreters caretaking these collections.

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