The idea that the museum is a distinctly western and modern cultural product is deeply embedded in museological discourse and narratives of museum history. The literature on the history of the museum concept is now extensive (Ames 1992, Bazin 1967, Bennett 1995, Duncan 1995, Hudson 1977, Pearce 1992, Walsh 1992), and with rare exception (Simpson 1996), the museum’s western origins and modern character are generally taken for granted. Bazin, in his often cited book The Museum Age (1967), notes that Chinese emperors were making collections of paintings and calligraphies as early as the third century BC. According to Bazin, the Shoso-in located in the Todaiji Monastery at Nara, near Kyoto, Japan is the oldest museum in the world (1967:27-29). However, outside a few examples, the text is almost exclusively devoted to the historical development of European or western museums.