The Home Page of Michael W. Meister

Michael W. Meister, W. Norman Brown Professor of South Asia Studies in the Department of the History of Art, is a specialist in the art of India and Pakistan. He has served as chair of the Department of South Asia Studies (SASt) and director of Penn's South Asia Center; he is Consulting Curator, Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and Faculty Curator of the South Asia Art Archive within the Penn Library's South Asia Image Collection. His research focuses on temple architecture, the morphology of meaning, and other aspects of the art of the Indian sub-continent.

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Misc. News

  • The 3rd Annual Anne d'Harnoncourt Symposium, Exhibiting India's Art in the 21st Century, co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, History of Art Department, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art was held on September 30-October 2, 201l. Participants included Debra Diamond, Associate Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, Freer Gallery, Washington D.Cs; Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, Curator of Asian Art, San Diego Museum of Art; John-Henry Rice, Associate Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Virginia Museum of Art; Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of the Arts of Asia, Newark Museum; and Professor John E. Cort, Denison University.


  • Students in a spring 2009 Photo-archival Seminar worked on conceptual frameworks for displaying the Allentown Art Museum's collection of Indian art. This involved both the Jaipaul collection currently in the Allentown Museum and the Koblenzer collection promised as a future gift. An exhibition, Myths, Religion and Ritual: Indian Art from the Koblenzer Collection, drawing on this research was on display in Allentown from June 20–September 5, 2010.
  • Students in a fall 2007 Halpern-Rogath Curatorial Seminar researched and developed an exhibition, Multiple Modernities: India 1905-2005, displayed in the William P. Wood Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, from June 14-December 7, 2008, in association with an international retrospective, Rhythms of India: The Art of Nandalal Bose (1882-1966).
  • An exhibition of Modern Indian Works on Paper, Post-Independence Art from a Private Collection, was exhibited in the Arthur Ross Gallery in 2007. Tigar By the Tail! Women Artists of India Transforming Culture, scheduled for the Arthur Ross Gallery, fall 2008, was cancelled.
  • Graduate students in the History of Art at Penn joined Professors Meister and Deborah Klimburg-Salter and students from the University of Vienna for a research tour of temples and monasteries in Himachal Pradesh in June 2004. For a report on this project and its scholarly outcome, see the article "Say No, and No, Until You Have to Say Yes" in the spring 2006 Penn Arts & Sciences Magazine. Proceedings of the international symposium on Traditional and Vernacular Architecture, coordinated by Michael W. Meister with Deborah Thiagarajan and edited by Subashree Krishnaswami, was published by the DakshinaChitra of the Madras Craft Foundation (2003).
  • The Mary B. Wheeler Image Collection under construction at Penn has a new and expanded Website as part of Penn's on-line Image Collection.

  • A catalogue and exhibition of Intimate Worlds: Masterpieces of Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection documented a major gift of Indian miniature paintings to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    Graduate-Student News


    Curriculum Vitae

    Selected Research Projects

    Current Courses

    Please check the History of Art Department's Web Site for recent listings

    Previously Taught Courses

    Fall 2011

    Spring 2011

    Fall 2010

    Spring 2010

    Fall 2009

    Spring 2009

    Fall 2008

    Spring 2008

    Fall 2007

    Spring 2007










  • Previous Semesters

    500-level Undergraduate/Graduate Proseminars (topics vary from year to year):

    700-level Graduate Seminars (topics vary from year to year):


    Links of Interest

    Essays Available On-Line

    [Please also check JSTOR]

  • Text and illustrations for Man and Man-Lion: The Philadelphia Narasimha (Artibus Asiae 56 [1996.3]: 291-301).

  • A Madison South-Asia conference lecture given by Professor Meister on "Cosmos in a Teacup" with text and images attached. The final published version, "The Unity and Gravity of an Elemental Architecture," is below.

  • Self Preservation and the Life of Temples, presented at the ACSAA symposium, Charleston, S.C., provides a preliminary report on the Continuities of Community Patronage project.
  • Temples Along the Indus, Expedition, 38.3 (1996): 41-54. [pdf]
  • Discovery of a New Temple on the Indus, Expedition 42.1 (2000): 37-46.
  • The Unity and Gravity of an Elemental Architecture, from Prakrti: The Integral Vision, 5 vols., ed. Kapila Vatsyayan; vol. 3, The Agamic Tradition and the Arts, ed. Bettina Baumer. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1995.
  • Louis Renou's 'The Vedic House', Res, Anthropology and Aesthetics 34 (1998): 143-61. (In this format this lacks endnotes; a complete version is available from JSTOR)

    last modified: 05/June/2013

    Michael W. Meister,