The Koelz Collection of Himalayan Art


Support for this exhibition was provided by a grant from the Rubin Foundation; additional support for work on the Koelz Collection was provided by the University of Michigan Center for South Asian Studies; the College of Literature, Science and the Arts; Office of the Vice President for Research; and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology.

Much of the content for this exhibition owes to the research of two extraordinary women: Carolyn Copeland and Grace Beardsley.

Carolyn Copeland served as Chief Budget Officer and Associate Dean of the U-M College of Literature Science and the Arts from 1984 to 1990, while also earning BA and MA degrees in the History of Art, specializing in Tibetan Buddhist Art. Copeland was a friend of Walter Koelz, and author of Tankas from the Koelz Collection (Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, 1980). Much of the content on tangkas on this web site derives directly from her writings. Carolyn Copeland passed away in March 1994.

Grace Beardsley was a student of textiles, a field she entered in 1978, after her 65th birthday. She completed a comprehensive study of the Koelz textiles, including the Kashmiri shawls, northern Indian phulkari embroideries, Uzbeki embroidered suzanis, and other pieces in the Koelz collection. This work, unfortunately, was not published in her lifetime, although her writings on the shawls appear in her posthumously published monograph Wrapped in Beauty: The Koelz Collection of Kashmiri Shawls (Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2005); information from that work also appears in this exhibition. We hope to include information and images of some of the other textiles in the collection in this exhibition in the future.

Jeff Watt, Director of Himalayan Art Resources, visited the collection in 2008 and provided valuable information on objects in the collection; the Himalayan Art website, where the Koelz tangkas are also exhibited, was a key reference for definitions, terminology, and descriptions used here. The exhibition also draws on work conducted by Alice Yao (University of Chicago) on the ga'u and Walter Koelz's collecting practices. Special thanks to Rebecca Bloom, who has generously shared her expertise in Tibetan Buddhist art and religion, assisted in the identification of Koelz objects and steered us to comparanda in other museum collections.

The exhibit was edited and designed by Dr. Julia Falkovitch-Khain in collaboration with Prof. Carla M. Sinopoli, Curator Emerita of Asian Archaeology and Ethnology (who takes all responsibilities for any errors in the content). For additional information on the collection, please contact

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