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Prof Louise Tythacott


Department: Arts

Louise joined Northumbria University in 2020 as the Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art and was previously Pratapaditya Pal Professor in Curating and Museology of Asian Art at SOAS. Prior to this she taught museology at the University of Manchester and was Curator of Asian collections and Head of the Non-Western department for the National Museums Liverpool. She has worked as a Curator of a private Burmese textile collection, an Exhibitions Officer at the Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery & Museums, Brighton, and a Managing Editor of the peer-reviewed journal, “Museum and Society”. She continues to work on museum projects and curate exhibitions.


Louise’s first degree was in Social Anthropology with Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Her post-graduate research was based at the University of Hong Kong where she undertook fieldwork on Chinese folk deity imagery and temple iconography. She studied Chinese at the University of Westminster and holds a PhD from the University of Manchester.

Research interests

Louise’s research focuses on the collecting and display of Chinese and Buddhist art in museums. She is presently co-editing a volume with Panggah Ardiyansyah, “Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums and Restitution” (NUS Press, 2020).

In 2016, with Christian Luczanits (PI), Louise was awarded an AHRC Research Grant of £438,000 for a three-year project (2016-19) to investigate Tibetan Buddhist Monastery Collections and Museums in Nepal and Ladakh.

From 2017-2018, Louise secured a major philanthropic donation to undertake research on the histories of objects from China’s Yuanmingyuan - or old “Summer Palace” - in British and French museum collections, and is presently completing a monograph on the “Summer Palace Diaspora”.

Louise maintains her links with SOAS as a Professorial Research Associate. At Northumbria, she leads the International Research Centre for the History and Culture of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms:

And is a member of the Visual and Material Cultures research group:

She is also a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Historical Society.





Louise Tythacott


  • History of Art PhD November 22 2012
  • Language Studies (other/general) Advanced Diploma May 21 1992
  • Social Anthropology BA (Hons) May 21 1989

Further Information

Current PhD students: 
So Ching Wong, Bronze Casting in Southwest China: A study of bronze statues from the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms. Start: 01/10/2020.
Elizabeth Reid (external supervisor), Chinese Art Exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery: An Investigation into the Meaning and Significance of the Exhibitions of Chinese Art held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery between 1901 and 1934. Start: 20/09/2015. 
Completed PhD students:
Heidi Tan (2020) Meritorious Curating and the Renewal of Pagoda Museums in Myanmar
Dierdre Parker (2019) Tracing Buddhism in the British Museum: Biographies of Buddhist Objects acquired by the British Museum in the 19th and 20th centuries
Stephanie Tredan (2018) Stuck in transit: The future of unknown Australian Indigenous Human Remains and claims for the return of Human Remains perceived as Cultural Material.  
Hee Jung Lee (2015) Exploring visual modernity and national identity in modern China: Fu Baoshi’s self-awareness and critical response during the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945). 
Maria Sklirou (2009) The Issue of Access in Greek Museums.
Alan Arcadia (2009) An Intimate Destruction: Desire, Death and the Self in Buddhism, Surrealism and Georges Bataille.
Emma Poulter (2008) The West African Collections at Manchester Museum.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Deity and Display, Tythacott, L., Bellini, C. 27 Feb 2020, In: Religions
  • Returning Southeast Asia's Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution, Tythacott, L., Ardiyansyah, P. Oct 2020
  • Collecting and Returning Southeast Asia's Past, Tythacott, L., Ardiyansyah, P. Oct 2020, Returning Southeast Asia's Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution, Singapore, NUS Press
  • The Looting of Koh Ker and the Return of the Prasat Chen statues, Tythacott, L., Chea, S., Muong, C. Oct 2020, Returning Southeast Asia's Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution, Singapore, NUS Press
  • Military Histories of 'Summer Palace' Objects from China, Tythacott, L. 2020, Dividing the Spoils: Perspectives on Military Collecting and the British Empire, Manchester, Manchester University Press
  • Transforming Chemde Museum: Monastic Curating and Co-Curating in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh, Tythacott, L. 2020, The Museum in Asia, London, Routledge
  • Curiosity, Loot and Art: A Brief History of Collecting Chinese objects in the West, Tythacott, L. 2019, The MAO: The Museum and the East, Artists book of the Museum of Oriental Art (MAO), Turin, Turin, MAO
  • Problems, Practices, and Politics of Provenancing Objects from China’s Yuanmingyuan, Tythacott, L. 1 Oct 2019, Collecting and Provenance: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, Lanham; Boulder; New York; London, Rowman & Littlefield
  • Collecting and Displaying China's 'Summer Palace' in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France, Tythacott, L. 25 Oct 2017
  • The Yuanmingyuan and its Objects, Tythacott, L. 25 Oct 2017, Collecting and Displaying China's 'Summer Palace' in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France, New York, NY, Routledge


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