Did you know that China has opened an average of 200 new museums per year over the last five years? In October, Minneapolis Institute of Arts Director Kaywin Feldman, Deputy Director Matthew Welch and Curator of Chinese Art Liu Yang visited China to research upcoming exhibitions and explore possibilities for exhibition exchanges with Chinese museums. The MIA team had the opportunity to visit some of these new museums on their trip.
Feldman reports that China’s museum tradition is young, but far beyond burgeoning, not only in number but also in size. Shanghai’s China Art Museum, which opened in 2012, boasts 1.8 million square feet, and the National Museum of China is even bigger. “With millions of objects in their collections, museum staffs still have trouble filling these spaces,” Feldman says.
While in China, Feldman was also the keynote speaker at the International Museum Forum in Anren, Sichuan. In her keynote, "Museums for a Global Age," Feldman spoke of the need for museums to look outside themselves—indeed their own countries—as they adapt to a new era.
“The energy, optimism, and confidence in a big future for museums in China is palpable, and I look forward to seeing what develops just in my lifetime,” she says.
For more on US-Asia museum collaborations:
· Read “Toward a New Phase of U.S.-China Museum Collaborations,” the full report of the 2012 U.S.-China Museum Directors Forum, organized by the Asia Society and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The forum brought 17 Chinese and 15 American museum leaders together in Beijing for a two-day dialogue to assess common needs and develop new processes for museum exchanges.
Image: Minneapolis Institute of Art Director Kaywin Feldman and Deputy Director Matthew Welch at the Jinsha State Museum, Chengdu, China. Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.