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University museums gaining ground in China

This article was first published online

An aerial view of the Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archeology which is expected to open in May this year

University museums, or museums managed or affiliated to universities, are the latest trend, and a recent survey showed that China had over 400 such museums. In Hangzhou alone, at least three university museums opened last year.

But the museums suffer from a shortage of manpower and funds despite the fact that they have more responsibilities, especially connecting the academia with the public.

“Universities lack a working mechanism for running museums,” Hang Jian, vice president and chief director of the Art Museum of China Academy of Art, had said when the design museum was inaugurated in April.

“We do not have adequate experienced staff like those at Palace Museum or Zhejiang Provincial Museum, nor do we enjoy tariff exemptions on import and export of artwork, or even a stable art fund from the government,” Hang said.

The academy is one of the few in China to have three different art museums on the campus. The art museum at Nanshan campus has a long history dating back to the 1930s. The folk art museum and the design museum in Xiangshan campus have been built recently and are part of the campus landscape designed by world-renowned architects.

But it cannot meet the growing demands from its faculty and partners. The Nanshan museum alone organizes around 20 exhibitions a year, each of them lasting less than a month.

“Every year, exhibitions that are curated entirely out of our own will are never more than five. We receive a lot of applications from our faculty (to hold exhibitions in our museum),” said Xia Shangzhou, a staff member from the Nanshan museum tasked with public programs.

“From next year we will reduce the proportion of the commissioned part and extend the duration of each exhibition and prepare more stuff for our visitors.”

To deal with the issues, an alliance of university museums in China was established in Hangzhou. Directors and administrators from 26 university museums and art museums, and officers from central ministries met for the alliance’s first meeting at China Academy of Art.

Initiated by Central Academy of Art, the alliance aims to establish standards for university museums and gain support from national government bodies, including from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and National Culture Heritage Administration.

“We are stuck in a system between education and cultural heritage, and can’t enjoy benefits from either of them,” said Wang Shen, assistant to the director at Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology.

“For example if we receive cultural relics from our alumni overseas, they need to pay extra tariffs. That’s because we are not on a tariff exemption list. I think this is where the alliance can step in and help us with the situation.”

The Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archeology is another heavyweight player. After six years of construction, the museum is expected to open in May this year.

It will also boast the first History of Art department in China.

“History of Art is a course that is available in Western universities at undergraduate and graduate levels. But in China it was separated from Studies of Literature as an independent discipline in 2011,” said Lou Kecheng, deputy director of the museum.

The decision to establish a teaching museum within the university was brought into practice when the university made contact with Wen C. Fong, a professor of Art History and historian of East Asian art at Princeton University in 2007.

Fong agreed to leverage his own network and resources to help the university start a centre for teaching East Asian art, in particular Chinese art.

The museum, designed by Richard Gluckman who specializes in museums, is located at the southwestern end of the Zijingang campus, and connected to downtown with a road and a canal.

With a floor area of 25,000 square meters, it is divided into two functional areas, which not only contain commonly seen exhibition rooms, a gift shop, and the cafe, but also a specialized art and archaeology library with a capacity of holding 160,000 books.

A very important purpose of the museum is to incorporate object-based learning into undergraduate studies, in major-related or general education courses.

“We have three materials labs in the museum. Once a lecturer from the university applies, he/she can take his/her class to the museum. Students can observe from a close distance, and even touch the antiquities and artefacts that are a great part of our civilization,” said Lou.

He further indicated that researchers from other universities can also apply to access the museum.

Till now, the museum has a collection of more than 5,000 cultural relics, which by Lou’s standard is “a fairly small number.”

“Funds from the university are scarce,” said Lou.

In last May, an art and archaeology fund, operated under the Zhejiang University Education Foundation, was established with capital donated by three alumni. It will be used exclusively for the development of the museum.

The museum has established various councils, pulling in patrons, experts, faculty members and also the general public, to decide on a series of matters from identification of archaeological objects to the appointment of the museum director.

“I hope that one day students from the Xuejun High School opposite us will be able to take a class in our museum,” Lou said.


Art Fund and Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation Conference Travel Fellowship

From Art Fund and Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation:

The Fellowship will support eight UK-based curators to participate fully in AAMC’s 2019 Conference in New York City in May 2019, including significant additional funding to support follow-up activities.

This new programme aims to enable UK curators to engage meaningfully and with authority on the international stage, developing their own experience and learning while also raising the profile of their institutions and collections abroad.  Through the travel fellowships we hope that new relationships will be brokered between institutions in the UK and internationally, stimulating collaboration on all areas of activity from loans to public programmes.

The programme is open all art curators at museums, galleries or charitable organisations.  Applicants must live and work in the United Kingdom. Priority will be given to applicants without existing strong ties to US partners and to the overall international curatorial network. Applications from curators without access travel funding and/or professional development support are particularly encouraged to apply.

As well as attendance at the conference, applicants will be invited to take part in introductory weekend tours; benefit from a pairing with a peer US-based curator to offer collegial partnership throughout the conference; receive an invitation to the AAMC Foundation’s Program Alumni Reception, a networking event allowing attendees to connect with others engaged in professional development and with AAMC; and enjoy a 2-year AAMC membership allowing access to AAMC’s suite of curatorial development opportunities.

Following the conference, recipients of the travel fellowships will be eligible to draw down additional research and development grants to activate ideas and develop relationships with their international counterparts.

Full details on the aims and scope of the programme can be found here.

Applications are open now with a deadline of Tuesday 12 February.

Science and technology museums built at 700 rural schools in China

This article first appeared on The Telegraph website:

A total of 700 science and technology museums had been built by the end of 2018 at middle schools throughout rural China, providing better access to science and technology for three million students, Science and Technology Daily reported on 24 December.

The programme was launched in August 2012 by the Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology Museums in China, aimed at arousing more interest in science and technology among teenagers living in central and western regions of China.

Compared with the city sci-tech museums, a rural one is much simpler, including only 20 exhibits, three bookcases and eight illusionary paintings. Many students were inspired to make items such as a voice-controlled luminous clock and solar-powered alarm clocks embedded in vases.

Public awareness of science and technology in urban areas dwarfed that of people in rural areas, according to a latest national survey on scientific literacy, said Qi Rang, standing vice-president of the China Association of Senior Scientists and Technologists.

In the past six years, many efforts have been made to realise greater equality of education resources, said Qi, who is also the main promoter of the charity programme.

It is hoped that there will be 1,000 such museums by 2020, said Chu Xueji, secretary-general of the foundation. Up to now, 72 per cent middle schools in western China have been equipped with sci-tech museums, including 79 in Tibet

Compiled by Fang Tian

This article was originally produced and published by People’s Daily. View the original article at

Call for Expressions of Interest: Community Outreach Workshops in Turkey – Content Creation

ICOM UK is seeking to appoint a consultant to develop workshop content for a project titled ‘Safeguarding Archaeological Assets of Turkey’ (SARAT) which is the recipient of funding from the Cultural Protection Fund. The project is led by the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA) in partnership with Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) and ICOM UK. SARAT’s main goal is to increase knowledge, capacity, and awareness of how Turkey’s archaeological assets can be protected and preserved. More information about the project can be accessed at

We are looking for a consultant with expertise in, and knowledge of, engaging communities with their local heritage and archaeology. The focus of the contracted work is to prepare workshop content for heritage professionals who will, in turn, develop bespoke outreach workshops for their local communities that will enable them to better appreciate, utilize and protect archaeological assets.

The deadline for applications is 09:00 on 25 February 2019.

For the role description and further details on how to apply, download the PDF below or access it at

Book now for the 2019 Working Internationally Conference, 11 March, London

ICOM UK and NMDC members, and British Library staff, can buy discounted tickets (£49 instead of £75) for the 2019 Working Internationally Conference on the 11 March at the British Library in London.

View the programme and book tickets at


2019 Working Internationally Conference: Working Together to Achieve More

At a time when it appears that the world is becoming more fragmented and nationalist agendas are gaining prominence, it is important to consider the role that international networks will have in supporting cross-border collaborations and partnerships. The 2019 Working Internationally Conference will explore the power of networks to address global problems, facilitate collective problem solving, increase knowledge sharing and transparency, and promote social cohesion.

We will also hear about the great international work carried out by ICOM UK members. A series of case studies providing ‘how to’ advice on different types of international projects and activities will be offered during our 5-minute ‘Flash Session’ and there will be an entire session dedicated to international touring exhibitions.

As the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March, two weeks after the conference, we will be convening a panel of museum experts to speak about imminent challenges and opportunities to the UK museum sector.

The day will be interspersed with opportunities for formal and informal networking with colleagues.

Tweet @UK_ICOM #WIConf2019

*All speakers subject to final confirmation

Call for applications: Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology

The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is accepting applications for its 2019 program in Washington, DC.

SIMA is a graduate student training program in museum research methods offered through the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Students participate in seminars and hands-on workshops at the museum and at an off-site collections facility, learning to navigate museum systems and select methods for examination and analysis of museum specimens while collecting data for a project of their choice.

For more information and to apply, please visit this site.

Help reconnect taonga with their communities and history

Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand is searching for ‘volunpeers’ to transcribe and digitise the business records of W O Oldman, a British collector and dealer in ethnographic art.

W.O. Oldman with masks and headdresses, about 1920, by Pacific and Atlantic Photos Ltd. Te Papa (O.027326)

W.O. Oldman with masks and headdresses, about 1920, by Pacific and Atlantic Photos Ltd. Te Papa (O.027326)

In collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Te Papa wants this information publically available, enabling institutions throughout the world to trace where taonga have travelled, and potentially reconnect them with their communities and history.

To find out more visit the Te Papa website:

CultureLabs Project Survey

CultureLabs is a European project funded under Horizon2020 (2018-2021). Working collaboratively across six countries, it aims to support Cultural Heritage Institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations and public administrations and other actors who wish to organise participatory projects aiming at social inclusion via interaction with cultural heritage. Migrants and refugees will be the primary focus of the project.

As a part of the project, a platform will be developed, which will be used to enable institutional stakeholders as well as community participants to document and share ideas and approaches that can facilitate social innovation in culture by increasing participation of hitherto under-represented groups. Digital technology will be used to facilitate and promote collaboration between different actors and the provided services will be designed with the targeted communities in mind. For more information about our project click here.

To do this, the project aims to gather the end-users’ views, needs, and expectations, as well as their previous experience in running outreach or participatory activities involving disadvantaged groups in cultural heritage initiatives.

To complete the survey click here.

The People’s History Museum is aiming to collect a certain number of responses. Therefore, it would be very helpful if you could reply back to after submitting your survey so they can keep track of the number of respondents.

Please see the information sheet providing further details about the project.

WI2019 Conference: Keynote Speaker – Lourdes Heredia, BBC World Service

We are delighted to announce the first keynote speaker for the 2019 Working Internationally Conference, which has the theme of ‘working together to achieve more’.

Lourdes Heredia, Next Day Planning Editor – Languages BBC World Service 

The BBC World Service is the world’s largest network of broadcasters.  Lourdes will speak about the BBC News series Crossing Divides, which featured stories of how different individuals and communities are coming together across political, social and economic lines

In her role, Lourdes works closely with all the World Service Languages to ensure that the best journalism is widely used and available across all outlets of the BBC.  This is a planning role, to foresee what will be coming and coordinate with all editors.

Before this, Lourdes was a World Duty Editor for Languages where she commissioned and coordinated bilingual correspondents around the world, with TV, radio & online stories for global audiences in breaking news situations.  Managing multiple stories & audiences simultaneously,  it is her responsibility to check the language services reporters produce material to the highest standard, in the best possible environment, with clear objectives and following all BBC rules.



Lourdes Heredia has been working for the BBC for the last 20 years in different areas and different capacities, and in different countries.

Over the last 6 years, she was a World Duty Editor, based in London, working at the heart of the newsroom. Now Lourdes is in charge of planning for next day stories and creating prospects that will appeal to more than 40 digital editors around the world. She coordinates the bilingual correspondents on breaking news stories in order to deliver the best possible material within the resource and time constraints of a breaking news environment.

Lourdes has been involved in important and high-profile projects, like 100 Women – a series focusing on the issues and achievements of women around the world. She coordinated the first 100 Women festival outside the UK in Mexico City and was also the lead producer of 100 Women Brazil, a documentary on sexism in the country’s sports.

In 2018, Lourdes was deputy editor of Crossing Divides, a global season looking at the ways in which people connect across the fractures that divide societies. Reporting on over 40 stories across BBC News – TV, radio and digital – Crossing Divides showcased encounters between people who held opposing views in politics and religion or came from different races, classes and generations.

Before working in London, Lourdes was a correspondent for BBC Mundo. Based in Washington DC, she covered two US presidential elections, including Barack Obama’s road to the White House. Before Washington DC, she was one of the first bilingual reporters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, covering the country’s worst financial crisis in decades. Whilst covering a variety of different angles on the ongoing financial crisis, Lourdes travelled around the region and also produced stories reflecting the real-life experiences of people struggling to survive in a crashing economy.

Lourdes likes travelling and learning different languages. She left Mexico when she was 18 years old on a Japanese government scholarship and went to study at the University of Tokyo for 5 years and then moved to Spain.  So far Lourdes has lived and worked in five different countries.

Something that might surprise you about Lourdes? She was part of the national synchronized swimming team in Mexico.

The 2019 Working Internationally Conference takes place on Monday 11 March at The British Library.  ICOM UK and NMDC members get a 35% discount on tickets.  View the programme and book your tickets now at