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Kunsthistorisches Institut



Public Lecture:
Contemporary Kimono: From Family Ceremonies to High-fashion Communities
Prof. Lucile Druet, Kansai Gaidai University

Friday, 22nd December 2023, 18:00-19:00
Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich, Room RAA-G-15


For the past three years the traveling exhibition “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk” has been highlighting several important perspectives about the design and the sartorial practice of kimono. The show engages the different garments’ material and cultural specificities, how the kimono is connected to ideas of class and identity while inspiring a variety of fashion creators from the Edo period to our contemporary age, inside and outside Japan. This presentation focuses on the latest segment of the kimono’s complex history, namely from the postwar to the Covid-19 era, examining how such an iconic mode of dress as kimono continues to interpellate concepts of immutability, transmission and family as well as innovation, playfulness and creativity. By using a variety of visual and textual references (from the exhibition, personal research and observations), it aims at showing how kimono is spectacularly global and local at the same time, and how kimono “traditions” can be innovative while new creations can surprisingly be conservative.

Lucile Druet is Associate Professor of Japanese Arts for the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai University (Hirakata, Osaka). Her teaching covers literature, painting traditions, theatrical performances, film and Japanese fashion, focusing on kimono. Interested in the intersection of clothing and embodiment, she researches how kimono is currently practiced in Kyoto (Maiko and Geiko communities, rental and second-hand shops) and how it appears in works of fiction (Tanizaki Jun’Ichiro, Ariyoshi Sawako, Hayashi Mariko) and poetry (Izumi Shikibu, Yosano Akiko).
Flyer (PDF, 161 KB)

This lecture will be held in English and is open to the public (no registration is necessary).
For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art History:


14th KU EU Workshop in Zurich 
3rd November 2023, 11:00–16:40
Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zurich (Room G-15)
For full program details, please see here.



Ausstellung_Erinnerungen schaffen

Creating Memories: Japanese Photographs
Exhibition at Augustinermuseum in Freiburg im Breisgau 
28 October 2023 to 28 April 2024

At the end of the 19th century, Japan became a destination of longing for many travelers. Photographs of typical views of Japan, which were offered for sale in large numbers on-site by the newly emerging photo studios and distributed by travelers, shaped the image of Japan abroad. The delicate colors of the hand-colored images of landscapes, temples, genre scenes, and people in traditional work clothes, in particular, continue to influence the European view of the country to this day.
The Ethnological Collection of the Museum Natur und Mensch holds an extensive collection of photographs collected by German travelers who visited Japan in the late 19th century. These are now being presented to the public for the first time in a cabinet exhibition in the House of the Prints and Drawings Department, classified according to cultural history. The exhibition was curated by Lisa Bauer-Zhao and Hans Bjarne Thomsen from the University of Zurich.



Hag of Adachi Moor

International Symposium Art of the Japanese Copy (September 12 and 19, 2023)

Keynote speech by Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko of Mikasa
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich  Aula Magna KOL-G-201
Flyer (PDF, 602 KB)

Presentations by leading and emerging scholars
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich RAA-G-01 
Symposium program  (PDF, 425 KB)
More information about the symposium 


Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen's Farewell Lecture

Why Bother with Museums: Teaching East Asian Art History in Switzerland  

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 18:15–19:15  
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich  Aula Magna KOL-G-201
Flyer (PDF, 211 KB) 

Professor Thomsen is retiring after having taught for over sixteen years as the professor in charge of teaching East Asian art history at the University of Zurich. During this time, surveys of European museums and collections have been an integral part of research and the teaching of a large number of students. The talk will cast a look back at the history of the KGOA during this time and argue for the importance of developing close connections between academia and the museum world.  


Online International Symposium

Tracing the Reception of Japanese Art in the West: As Seen through Case Studies in Central Europe 

Organized by International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Saturday, 28th January 2023, 8:00–10:00 CET (16:00–18:00 JST)

Keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen: Academia and Museums: The Importance of Collaborative Projects

Other presentations:
Dr. Klaus J. Friese (Lecturer, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich): Siebold's Collection in Munich: A New Type of Museum?
Sabine Sophia Bradel (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Zurich)
Japanese Woodblock Prints in a Private Collection in Winterthur, Switzerland
Matilde E. Tettamanti (MA, University of Zurich)
A First Examination of the Japanese Art Collection of Monte Verità in Ascona, Switzerland

This symposium is held online via Zoom and pre-registration is required. 




Public Lecture:
Alpine Globalization – Japan and Switzerland 
Prof. Claude Hauser, Université de Fribourg 

Wednesday, 12th October 2022, 18:00-19:00
Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich, Room RAA-G-15


Japan is an island country, yet it is largely defined by its special relationship with the mountains, which have become an essential part of its mental landscape. This Asian country has an alpine imagination that is both endogenously constituted by the lived space of the Japanese Alps and nourished by the external projection of the Swiss alpine model. From the first ascent of the Mittelegi route of the Eiger in 1921 by the Japanese mountaineer Yuko Maki, accompanied by his Bernese guide Samuel Brawand, to the opening of a tourist office specially dedicated to Japanese visitors in Grindelwald during the 1980s, the symbolic investment of the alpine narrative and its economic and commercial repercussions can be approached by analyzing a few important stages of the cultural, touristic, and economic exchanges that mobilized the representations of the mountain between Japan and Switzerland in the 20th century. This phenomenon of reciprocal exchanges, symbolic reinterpretations, or progressive decantations of Swiss Alpine stereotypes between Japan and Switzerland (the North Face of the Eiger, the Matterhorn, the figure of Heidi, the Swiss chalet...) will be approached through several accounts and images of the Swiss Alps evoked in particular in the magazine of the Japanese Alpine Club Sangaku and other archival documents.

Claude Hauser is a Professor Ordinarius at the Université de Fribourg where, among other subjects, he teaches cultural history, international cultural relations, history of intellectuals, and history of national minorities. His publications include Jura: les sept clichés capitaux. Essai d’histoire Culturelle (Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil, 2012) and La Chine en partage. Ding Zuochao – Auguste Viatte. Une amitié intellectuelle au XXe siècle (Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil, 2018). He is the founder and co-director of the Centre suisse d'études sur le Québec et la Francophonie and is teaching at the Faculty of History at UniDistance, Swiss Distance Learning Institute.

Flyer (PDF, 189 KB)

This lecture will be held in English and is open to the public (no registration is necessary).
For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art History:

The event is organized and supported by the Swiss-Japanese Society.

SJG logo


Gagaku Lecture and Presentation
Thursday, 22nd September 2022, 18:00-19:30
ETH Zürich Main Building, Rämistrasse 101
Hörsaal HG E7
(Free of charge - no reservation necessary)

Gagaku has a long history of over a thousand years and is one of the world’s oldest forms of music and dance. This Japanese performing art form became standardized during the tenth century and was based on the ancient music of various Asian cultures, for example, those of Vietnam, Korea, China, and Central Asia. It was performed at the Japanese imperial court, in aristocratic settings, and at large shrines and temples, and has been handed down to the present as a valuable music cultural property that has retained its ancient forms. 

Gagaku was inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 and has been the subject of academic research over the last decades. As gagaku performances are mostly limited to imperial palaces and large religious institutions, regular Japanese people rarely have the chance to see and hear gagaku in person. Performances outside of Japan are also rare; this is the first time in fifty years that a gagaku troupe will visit Switzerland. Please be sure to take this rare opportunity to see the Kitanodaui Gagaku Ensemble members in person and hear their music, enjoy their dance and costumes, as they explain key aspects of the gagaku theater. They have graciously agreed to take part in this lecture presentation for members of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich, the co-hosts of this event.

For those interested, there is a regular performance of the Gagaku theater at the Musikschule Konservatorium Zurich on the next day (September 23, 19:30). Tickets can be purchased at the Swiss-Japanese Society   

Flyer (PDF, 383 KB)



ETH Exhibition 2022 Image

Ausstellung und Publikation
Linien aus Ostasien: Japanische und chinesische Kunst auf Papier

17.08.2022 – 13.11.2022

Weitere Informationen

Online International Symposium

Ariana Museum

Online International Symposium
Japanese Ceramics That Arrived in Switzerland: Discovery of the Musée Ariana Collection
6th January 2022

See full details here 

50 Jahre Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens

Weiterführende Informationen

Hauser Image

Public Lecture

Alpine Globalization – Japan and Switzerland 
Prof. Claude Hauser, Université de Fribourg
12th October 2022, 18:00-19:00

Gagaku Image


Gagaku Lecture and Presentation
22nd September 2022, 18:00-19:30
ETH Zürich Main Building
Hörsaal HG E7 
(Free of charge - no reservation necessary)



Linien aus Ostasien: Japanische und chinesische Kunst auf Papier 
Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich, 17.08.2022 – 13.11.2022

Breath of Japan image


The Breath of Japan: Written and Painted Poetry (Hirmer, 2022)

Herausgegeben von Heinz Kroel und Hans Bjarne Thomsen 


More information on the website of the publisher

China and the West image


China and the West: Reconsidering Chinese Reverse Glass Painting (De Gruyter, 2022)
Herausgegeben von Elisa Ambrosio, Francine Giese, Alina Martimyanova und Hans Bjarne Thomsen


More information on the website of the publisher