U.S. and Chinese Museums and Their Communities
At Asia Society in New York on Tuesday, in association with the U.S.-China Museum Summit, leaders from museums in the U.S. and China gathered to discuss what role they play in their respective communities.
“When we talk about community, we drive the question back to: 'But who is [the museum] for?'” said Asia Society Vice President for Global Arts and Cultural Programs and Museum Director Boon Hui Tan. “It’s not just what the building is for, it is about that social context. It’s what is shared between the museum and its constituents that forms its community.”
Panelists discussed how their institutions are staying socially relevant so they can have a real social impact. Sharon Matt Atkins of the Brooklyn Museum said that it can be challenging for museums, especially larger ones, to be nimble and responsive to current issues — but it is critical. She pointed to an upcoming exhibition at her museum on feminism and how it can potentially incorporate issues like sexism in politics and the prospect of the first female president.
“Some would even question whether museums can exist if they’re not responsive,” Atkins said. “You need to be responsive and be having the kinds of conversations that are happening in our everyday lives and impacting us. You need to be making the museums a place where we can make those conversations happen.”
The panel also included Dr. Catherine L. Futter of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Dr. Katherine Anne Paul of the Newark Museum, Qizhi Wang of the Nanjing Museum, and Heng Wu of the Nanjing Museum. Watch the complete program in the above video.