World Systems Perspectives and Art: A Case Study of the Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art in the Netherlands

  • Laura E.A. Braden (Autor/in)
  • Naomi Oosterman (Autor/in)


When examining the evaluation of artworks from non-Western nations, research often focuses on the appropriation of value by those who live in culturally central countries over their peripherally located counterparts. Such expertise often translates to the “discovery” of art in peripheral nations. For example, Price (2001: p. 68) examines “the ‘anonymous’ world of Third World craftsmanship” where “Western observer’s discriminating eye is often treated as if it were the only means by which an ethnographic object could be elevated to the status of a work of art.” However, less work explores how non-Western actors exhibit and represent their country’s artwork within a Western context and to Western audiences. The present research uses a case study to explore the way Tibetan artists and curators have established a museum dedicated to Tibetan art in Northern Europe: the Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art in Emmen, the Netherlands. The mission of this museum is to introduce and promote the “artistic, cultural and historical matters of Tibetan Art […] reflecting [the] adjustment of Tibetan Art and culture in the West.” This museum is the first in Europe to house and exhibit contemporary Tibetan artworks and officially opened in September 2017. Consequently, our research is the first to examine this museum and proffer analysis of the museum’s strategies for promoting their artwork. Drawing from a world systems perspective, the overall aim of the research is to provide insight into the representation of culturally peripheral, non-Western art in a culturally dominant, Western context.