art also appealed to the many foreigners working in the country. Significant
collections have been formed in the United States during the past one hundred
and fifty years. Both of the collections of the Denison University and the Center
for Burma Studies were formed by United States citizens visiting and working
as missionaries, scholars, and diplomats in Burma in the late nineteenth and
twentieth centuries. Collectors of Burmese art were originally colonials and
missionaries, but after independence in 1948, diplomats and scholars predominated.
The interest each group took in Burmese society and its religion, and the relationships
between the Burmese and people from the United States is often expressed through
the kinds of objects collected. Missionaries primarily gathered tourist type
materials or had objects produced for western functions, e.g. lacquer objects
or silver sugar bowls decorated with Burmese motifs. Diplomats and scholars
expressed a greater interest in items that would have been used by the Burmese
themselves, though not to the exclusion of other pieces.