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Past Event

Virtual Saturday University: Building Ancient Memory in Modern Kyoto

Apr 10 2021

Seattle Asian Art Museum


10 AM – 11:30 AM

Monumental structures encapsulate poignant events and memorable moments in history. Their construction, demolition, or remodeling often illustrate larger sociopolitical movements. This lecture series, titled Sites of Memory in Asia: Remembrance and Redemption, presents four case studies in North India, Japan, West India, and China; each reveals a highly-charged story behind an iconic site, one that embodies significant political or religious changes.

Registration confirmation emails include a link to access Zoom webinars. Use this link to register in advance to receive event reminders. This program is currently offered as a $5 suggested donation, to keep it accessible for all. Normally, tickets are $7 for SAM members, $12 for public. Donate today to support museum programming.

Building Ancient Memory in Modern Kyoto
Alice Tseng, Boston University

Nestled in the natural scenery of Kyoto’s eastern mountain range, the Heian Shrine is an iconic religious structure featuring vividly-colored emerald-blue roofs and vermilion pillars. The architecture recalls the palace style of the late eighth century, to celebrate the city’s founder, Emperor Kanmu (reign years 781-806). The shrine is easily mistaken as one of the oldest monuments of this millennial city when in fact it debuted in 1895. This lecture explores the driving forces behind creating the purposely ancient-looking memorial in the peak of Kyoto’s—and the entire Japanese nation’s—modernization frenzy.

About the Presenter

Alice Y. Tseng is Professor of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University. She specializes in the architecture, art, and visual culture of modern Japan. Her major book publications are Modern Kyoto: Building for Ceremony and Commemoration, 1868-1940 (University of Hawai`i Press, 2018) and The Imperial Museums of Meiji Japan: Architecture and the Art of the Nation (University of Washington Press, 2008).



Creating and Destroying Sacred Spaces in North India


Building Ancient Memory in Modern Kyoto


The Memory of the Ancients in Modern Iranian and Parsi Architecture


Mao’s Great Leap Forward in Tian’anmen Square 1958-59

This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

Presenting Sponsor
Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

Image: Sanjo Bridge and Daigokuden (detail), 1896, Mochizuki Gyokusen, pair of six-panel screens: ink, gold and colors on silk, 53 5/8 x 111 1/2 in., Seattle Art Museum, gift of Griffith and Patricia Way, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2010.41.8

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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