Organized Panel Session
The samurai are one of the most common tropes for Japan, as reflected by the number of exhibitions on the subject at museums in the U.S. in the past decade alone. This presentation examines a number of exhibitions that have appeared in the U.S. during this time, organized by American museums or overseas institutions, such as: “Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868” (Metropolitan Museum, N.Y., 2010); “Dressed to Kill” (Cincinnati Art Museum, 2017); “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed” (National Geographic Museum, Washington, D.C, 2012); Samurai: The Way of the Warrior (Frist Art Museum, Nashville, 2017), “The Samurai Collection” (Dallas, Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, 2018). The presentation is based on personal visits to exhibitions, the study of exhibit layouts and displays of artifacts and text, design promotional materials (online as well as in print copy), as well as personal experience as a historical consultant for one exhibit. It will examine the various approaches taken to the display of the history of the samurai—how historical and cultural interpretations of the samurai are shaped and communicated to a general audience—and explore the tensions between cultural representation for popular consumption and history.