Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shanghai Points of View

At the American Alliance for Museums meeting in May,  I served as an ambassador to three young  Ph.D students from Fudan University in Shanghai: Jolie Zhu, Cherry Li and Erica Fang. This was their first trip to the United States and they also found time to visits museums in New York City and Washington DC.  I was interested in their perspectives on US museums and the conference, so they were good enough to sit down with me on our last day in Baltimore.  And finally, a minute from me to get the post up!

Jolie’s research focus on is on museum education and particularly in lifelong learning.  Erica wanted to understand exhibition assessment and learn about the exhibition  awards and Cherry was interested in learning more about various museum assessment programs.  Overall, at the conference and in their museum visits, they were impressed by American museums commitment to informal learning—that they think about education, independently, as a way to attract visitors.  They found museums and museum colleagues here open-minded, and wanting to communicate in a casual way.

In Washington,  they made a tour of almost all the Smithsonian museums and enjoyed all the ways it was possible to interact in a museum—from the butterfly house at Natural History, where butterflies soared around them,  to Air and Space,  where audience members got the chance to simulate flying a plane.

Most memorable perhaps though, was the ceremony at American History where visitors of all ages participate in folding a reproduction of the Star Spangled Banner.  “So very many students and so very moving.”

And  one of the best parts about my new colleagues?  I’ll be in Shanghai in September and get to see them again!  I look forward to learning from them about their city's museums. I love being an ambassador at the conference and As AAM continues to expand an international presence at the conference, it's a great oppo
rtunity for US professionals to delve deeper into other approaches and points of view to our common work.

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