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Wynne Lee

Field: Art, Art History, Provenance Research

Major: International Relations

Host: TU Berlin. Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Historische Urbanistik

Duration: 3 months in summer 2018

Job title: Research Intern for the provenance and repatriation of Chinese artifacts


Job description: I had one main project throughout the entire internship, which was writing a report regarding the repatriation of cultural property in China that had the possibility of being published. This required me to find and analyze many different articles, government policies, laws, and books to gather information that I then synthesized into a report. Most of the time I was searching for sources, reading extensively, taking notes, and writing the report. I would also discuss my research progress with my supervisor so she could explain anything that I encountered that was confusing, as well as give me feedback and direction for my research. Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet with and get help with my research from some external contacts, such as a documentary producer, who gave me more information about the collectors and art markets in China, as well as about Chinese attitudes toward repatriation.

Some of my secondary projects and duties included making comprehensive tables and compiling data that related to research in the provenance of East Asian artifacts. I had to go through several auction catalogues from the 1800s, and gather data such as the date, place, seller, buyer, auction lot numbers, items auctioned, item details, prices, and other information from these catalogues and organize all of them into an Excel sheet. Some of the other duties included searching for current and past events regarding art theft and instances of repatriation in regards to China, and creating similar tables with the information.

The interesting part of the internship was researching the cultural repatriation of artifacts, a topic that I had wanted to learn about for a long time, and being able to spend time independently exploring this topic and gaining deeper knowledge. It is essentially the intersection of both international culture and politics, which is what I am focusing on in my studies at university.

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