“These objects have a lot of baggage coming with them. They have a lot of stories.”  Do Ho Suh, artist

Seattle Art Museum is currently hosting a fabulous exhibit titled “LUMINOUS, The Arts of Asia”.

Based entirely on the SAM’s own, internationally renowned collection of Asian Art, this show – on view until January 8, 2012 – is not be missed!

The above quote references the ancient objects in the museums’ collection, and the fact their condition has deteriorated over time.

Not only that, the location has changed as well, along with the original meaning and purpose.

Indeed, everything has shifted along with the original meaning, and the stories behind them have been lost to us over the centuries.

And these objects do have stories have to tell, something which isn’t immediately noticeable in a museum setting.

Most of us never give this a second thought, but here’s the thing.

Of the many works of art housed in museums, we rarely consider the fact that we are viewing them out of context, far from their original location and purpose.

Take for example, a Buddhist sculpture, an object of worship that would have been housed in a sacred temple centuries ago.

Today, viewed in a museum setting, the sense of sacredness has been diminished. We know from the accompanying labels what the object is, plus where and when it was made, but little else.

We need to be reminded that this sacred Buddha – viewed against white walls and under electric lights – is a far cry from the dark interior of an ancient temple, dimly lit with candles and burning incense.

If only these objects could speak, the mystery of their past lives would unfold before our eyes!

Of course, in the absence of ancient works of art that can speak, museum curators and archeologist do the work, analyzing and exploring the evidence before them.

And the stories begin to reveal themselves.

“Like humans, objects also have baggage, and the more ancient they are, the more encumbered they become.”  Do Ho Suh, artist

Likewise, the objects in our homes can encumber us and weigh us down.

In this sense, an interior designer is a little like a museum curator, analyzing and exploring the evidence laid out before her.