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Storied Stone: Reframing the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s South Indian Temple Hall

Storied Stone: Reframing the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s South Indian Temple Hall

by Darielle Mason, with contributions by Crispin Branfoot, Eleanor B. H. Coates and Susan Pepper Treadway, Anna Lise Seastrand, and Archana Venkatesan

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Storied Stone weaves together memories and scholarship to illuminate the multilayered history of the sole example of historical Indian stone temple architecture publicly displayed outside the subcontinent. While visiting Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in 1913, the Philadelphian Adeline Pepper Gibson purchased over sixty huge granite carvings. Given in 1919 to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, these architectural elements were arranged to form a temple hall (mandapam) in the museum’s original building in 1920. Following research in Madurai, the installation was reconfigured in the museum’s current building in 1940 and reimagined in 2016.

The tale that unfolds in these pages—part detective story, part museum history, part case study—explores a century of debate about exhibition, authenticity, and interpretation within the museum, brought to life by archival images and striking new photography. Offering fresh insights into the original context and meaning of the carvings, this volume also highlights the complexities of presenting the work in, and for, the twenty-first century.

About the Author
Darielle Mason is the Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art and head of the Department of South Asian Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Paperback with flaps
248 pages
8 × 10 1/2 in.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2022
ISBN-13: 9780876332412