Universiteit Leiden

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Pao-Yi Yang

PhD candidate

P. Yang MA
+31 71 527 2166

Pao-Yi Yang is an external PhD candidate at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Pao-Yi Yang


The title of my research is Framing China: A Comparative Study of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

I consider museums as ‘big frames’ compounded by multiple ‘little frames’ inside themselves – including various exhibitions spaces (such as the white cube and period rooms), and several ways of display (such as glass cases, the usage of the artifact as the backdrop, and the sacred altar). The frame is not merely a visual and physical limit or edge, but contains rhetorical meanings beyond it, and represents some of the curator’s thoughts. Objects, along with their tangible frames, experience the process of ‘enframing’ and ‘reframing’ by museums. They are separated and framed into different sequences, groups, spaces and storylines. Thus, when viewers see and cognize these artifacts through the tangible frame, they are also triggered by rhetorical messages shaped by museums. This ultimately leads to the background question: What kind of perspective is the museum framing and communicating to viewers?

If the question relates to cross-cultural topics, it becomes even more complex: how does the museum display an artifact which was not been made in the country where the museum is established? Does the frame of the museum express a completely opposite relation between the Self (museum) and the Other (artifact), or is the boundary between the Self and the Other gradually blurred? All of these questions highlight that museums are institutions of power, and the process of ‘framing’ is the visual and physical manifestation of this power. Since ‘framing’ filters particular messages, it makes museums become non-neutral spaces. The curator’s perspective has to conform the types, purposes and policies that the museum puts into his/her consideration, and make an impact behind it.

Through the comparative study, this research aims to analyze two powerful institutions, the Rijksmuseum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as two different kinds of frames by looking at the national-historical and the private-aesthetic kinds of collecting and displaying, and showing how ‘China images’ are framed to viewers.


Teaching activities

2011-2012: Teaching Assistant of Chinese Paleography


Curriculum vitae

2014-present: PhD student, Leiden University
2010-2013: MA Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University
2012-2013: Research Assistant of National Palace Museum
2010-2012: Research Assistant of National Taiwan University
2006-2010: BA Chinese Literature, National Central University


Key Publication(s)

2014: 'Sutra Shaped as Pagoda - Combining the Sutra, Buddhist Paintings and Pagoda Construction'(熔寫經、佛繪及造塔於一爐--塔形經探討), in:The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, vol.373, pp.74-85.

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • KG Moderne beeldende kunst
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