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This is the website of the East Asian Art History Section of the University of Zurich, the sole institution where this topic is taught in Switzerland. Our goal is to teach the art histories of Japan, China, Korea, and other cultures in East Asia. Related cultures have also been taught here and we have, for example, in the last two years had courses and/or presentations on the arts and culture of Mongolia, Tibet, India, and Gandhara. Nevertheless, the main emphasis of this institution has been to teach the history of art of China and Japan with (hopefully) an increasing coverage of Korea.


Our group is composed of one full professor, numerous visiting professors, four assistants, lecturers, as well as tutors and other technical staff. As can be seen on this website, the teaching and research activities of the department have taken a number of forms, including seminars (senior and junior), lectures, practical exercises, theory classes, museum storage visits, lecture series, workshops, conferences, and excursions.

The museums we are currently surveying include the St. Gallen Historisches und Völkerkundemuseum, Museum Rietberg, Historisches Museum Bern, Museum der Kulturen Basel, and the Field Museum in Chicago. Excursions in the last two years have included research trips to Chicago, Germany, England, Japan, and an upcoming visit to China.

With our full schedule, we aim to do as much as possible to further the cause of East Asian art history in Switzerland. A number of talented students are at the present involved in the writing of MA Thesis and PhD dissertations in the field. The extent we are able to extend our work in the field depends very much on the corporation of many, including the dedicated members of the staff, our students, and you, the public.

If you would like to participate in the activities of the section, please feel free to do so, whether or not you are part of the university or museum community. If you would like to be informed of lectures and other events, then please enter your email address on this website in order to receive regular information.

We aim to cover a number of topics each semester – in the 2009 spring semester, it was East Asian calligraphy, in 2009 Autumn it was the colloquium series Iconic Encounters: Images and Media between East and West. In 2010 spring it was an emphasis on anime, the animated movies of Japan, and in 2010 it was contemporary arts of China. During the spring and fall of 2011 we plan to have a whole year with emphasis on the archives of art, including an international conference. Please join us at the many occasions when we have events open to the general public.

I look forward to greeting you at one of these events.

Best regards, 
Hans Bjarne Thomsen