By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, April 14: The Tibet Museum of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), Central Tibetan Administration located near Tsug-lag-Khang, the main temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala today held its first joint exhibition with an international museum.
Tibet Museum opened its temporary exhibition titled ‘Capturing Tibet’; Colonialism and the Camera During the Mission to Lhasa in association with the National Museum Liverpool and the University of Manchester earlier today.
The photographs on display at the ten-day exhibition (April 14-24) are collections of series of photographs captured during Young Husband’s military expedition to Lhasa in 1904. It is the Tibet Museum’s first joint exhibition with an international museum.
“Liverpool Museum’s Tibet collection is not just unique for its breath and numbers,iIt is also precious as it not only represents Tibet in a particular way, it represents Tibet in a way that the British understood it in the late 19th and early 20th Century. It also gives us a historical context that many European Tibetan collections in Europe and North America particularly do not offer,” Dr Emma Martin, lecturer in Museology at Manchester University and curator of the exhibition said in her key address.
On the importance of the exhibition, Dr Emma said, “Tibet is an often imagined place for the west, it is a place that is shrouded in spirituality and religiosity and the historical nature of how these objects travelled from Tibet via British India often back to Europe and in particularly to the UK is often scripted out, we often do not have these histories. So this is why this exhibition was really quite important to me. I wanted this exhibition to not just use these images as representation of Tibet, to show the beauty of the landscape, to show the unusual nature of the dress and the prominence of religion which is often such a key idea that comes across in western imaginings of Tibetan museums.”
“What you see with this exhibition is a series of ways of thinking about photographs and how we can use photographs to enhance the historical records. So how we can use photographs to challenge what we think we know, in this case what the British recorded, during Young Husband’s 1904 expedition to Lhasa, “she added.
“We have got two photo albums; they are the most important part of all of these, and they show 200 photographs most of which were not even shown either in Liverpool Museum where they have lived for the last 70- 80 years neither have they been shown in Tibetan communities. So this is the first opportunity to see these albums in the whole,” Dr Emma said and insisted that every one look at those photographs.