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Buddhadharma : Summer 2019
32 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY of his collection of Buddhist statuary. Ultimately, however, Guimet’s sincere but awkward oriental ist attempt at authenticity established a precedent for the Tibetan sand mandalas we see in museums today. For curators who are attuned to the ritual life of animated objects (eyeopening ceremonies, con secrating relicemplacement, devotional contexts, and so on) and who are transparent about the means by which such objects have entered their collections, such museum displays are crucial for both conservation and education. In this context, the surface appearance can entice the spectator in to taste the unfamiliar history, cultural significance, and doctrinal import of the beautiful religious object. Years ago, I led a group of Orthodox rabbis and yeshiva students through the Tokyo National Museum of Art. Due to Talmudic prohibition against entering the sanctuaries of foreign gods, they had not seen any temple icons during their twoweek visit to Japan. But when I met them in the secular space of Tokyo’s modern museum, they were free for the first time to engage with Buddhist art and doctrine. The neutralized, deconsecrated images there became the springboard for deep interreligious encounter and understanding. In that encounter, there was a surprising inver sion of secular versus religious space, as it was the floodlit modern museum, not the incensefilled temples of ancient Japan, that facilitated the young yeshiva students’ understanding. There