Yichien Tsai studied BA HIstory of Art. She is now manager of the Mujintang Collection, Taipei.
Why did you choose SOAS, and why History of Art?
After completing a foundation course for International students at Kings College London, I received two offers from SOAS for Religion Studies and Art/Archaeology. I felt the admission officers valued and respected my cultural background and sensed that I have the potential to become a ‘SOASian’ from my personal statement. I chose History of Art finally because a friend studied this course and recommended it. Additionally, this is a course which I have no access to at the undergraduate level in my home country.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
In my first year, I was able to be exposed to many foreign cultures such as South Asian, Islamic, and African arts and architecture which I had no knowledge of before. In my second and third year, I was able to focus on the geographical areas where I had more interest and was more competent. The language course I chose as optional unit complemented perfectly, and I could apply the newly acquired language skill on my areas of study and when travelling and conducting fieldwork overseas.
Can you tell us about the work you do now and how you got there?
I manage an art collection specialising in Chinese ceramics in Asia while curating exhibitions and working with auction houses both locally and overseas. As a collector, I believe perseverance and diligent studies are more important than just passion. I form my collections systematically and thematically and therefore earn credibility and recognition both from the business and academic spheres.
How has your experience at SOAS helped you in your career?
I applied the language skill and knowledge acquired at the school when looking for my own career path, and the connections I made at SOAS have been invaluable in furthering my education and career.
What advice would you give to students thinking about studying History of Art at SOAS?
Your horizon will be significantly broadened and studying at SOAS can be a truly life-changing experience. If you are interested in historical sites and artefacts outside of traditional Western art canons, come and join us!