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Kaleidoscope of Burmese art at the NIU Art Museum

August 23, 2016

Burmese-PortraitThis fall the NIU Art Museum, in collaboration with the Center for Burma Studies, opens a major exhibition suite running through Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Center for Burma Studies.

Kaleidoscope of Burmese Art, a multiple exhibition series across campus, reflects Burmese art of the past and present and gives new perspective and focus to the array of multi-ethnic art produced in Burma/Myanmar. The exhibitions highlight the most iconic pieces from the Burma Art Collection—some never before publicly exhibited—as well as recent paintings by Burmese artists on loan from the Thukhuma Collection that illustrate current artistic practice in Myanmar within the past decade of dramatic political shifts and more recent social and cultural freedoms.

Join exhibition curator Dr. Catherine Raymond, professor of Art History at the NIU School of Art and Design and director of the Center for Burma Studies as she welcomes visitors with a lecture, “Celebrating the Ten Flowers of Burmese Art,” an introduction to the exhibition suite in Altgeld Hall 315 on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. Following the lecture, visitors may view the exhibitions and enjoy a Public Reception beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the NIU Art Museum’s Altgeld Hall first-floor galleries.

Dr. Raymond explains, “The exhibitions provide a conceptual way to understand and study the distinct objects in the collection and reassess the original context these objects were created within—a multicultural and multi-ethnic society which composes Myanmar today. While representing the past— through the donations of American diplomats, scholars or even simple explorers who have lived in Burma—the exhibitions also examine the transformations which occurred throughout Burma/Myanmar’s history. The suite surveys changes in Burmese traditional historic influences as well as external colonial pressures and the revolutionary upheaval to the present modern period’s recent democratic election of Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Like a prism or kaleidoscope, the exhibitions focus small, thematic presentations around the hidden treasures and masterpieces of the collection from various differing perspectives offering an exciting journey through the many Burmese cultures represented. The NIU Art Museum is pleased to host four of the seven exhibitions which will remain on display through Nov. 18, 2016. For details on those exhibits, as well as a complete schedule of events and educational programs, please visit


Aung Khaing, Htibyusaung Medaw Nat, 2014, Acrylic on canvas. (24 x 18 in.) On loan from the Thukhuma Collection.


Bilu, Burma/Myanmar, Carved wood, lacquer, mirror inlay, (35 x 12 x 18 in.) Burma Art Collection, Gift of Konrad and Sarah Bekker.

16-Burma art-6-30-gt-34

Zwe Mon, untitled, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, (48 x 36 in.). On loan from the Thukhuma Collection.

Ramayana Poem Silver Bowl

Detail of silver bowl depicting scenes from the Ramayana poem, Burma/Myanmar, silver, (approx. 7 x 9 in.). Gift of John A. Lacey.

Manuscript chest detail

Detail of manuscript chest, set on a stair step platform, Burma/Myanmar, wood, lacquer, gilded, paint. Gift of John A. Lacey.