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Treasures in public museums unchained (3)

By Liao Danlin (Global Times)

13:38, January 22, 2013

Flowers and Fruits by Pan Yuliang (China Art Museum, Shanghai) (GT)

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Last year, the Ministry of Culture encouraged art museums all over China to produce a season of exhibitions featuring their best collections. Heading that call, executive director of China Art Museum, Shanghai, Li Lei said, "We are happy to be supportive if any of the museums need our collections for exhibitions or academic studies."

During the exhibition's press conference held last Friday, Fan Di'an, director of NAMC, said that a public museum stands because of its collection, but more importantly, it carries the responsibility of making the most effective use of that collection.

An exhibition like this is a way for people to get to know each museum and their most recognizable items that might be in long-term exhibitions. Fan also emphasized that accumulative collecting and academic arrangements should accompany each other. He advised that exhibitions be organized in an academic manner, offering an introduction into China's art history.

Linking art to society

In the NAMC exhibition, Shaanxi Province Art Museum's collection presents not only historical works but also paintings from young artists of today. According to the museum's director, the intention was to encourage artists to build a positive relationship with art museums.

Artist Chen Danqing wrote in an article published in Science Times that China "does not have a real art museum," meaning there is an absence of a museum culture. He said many people say they can't understand modern art and added that the question is not whether they can understand or not but whether there is a place for them to learn to understand. What Chen was saying refers to a missing relationship between art museums and the public.

During an interview with China Cultural Daily, Fan summarized two general weaknesses that art museums in China suffer from: the lack of an independent and active culture; and a simplified design in exhibition planning. To help change the situation Fan suggested increasing the number of well-planned exhibitions and changing the purpose of exhibitions from promoting artists to serving the public. That way, we can "build a relationship between art and the society," said Fan.

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