The National Committee implemented an exchange program that provided a forum for museum professionals, specialists and government officials in China and the United States to share experiences and ideas on how museums can best engage young audiences and serve as educational resources.
In the first stage of the project, four American museum professionals traveled to China to meet with their professional counterparts. The cities visited in the two-week period included Shanghai, Changsha, and Beijing. These three cities boast significant museums, many quite innovative, that are committed to engaging young audiences. They are also increasingly seeking international assistance to aid in this mission.
In Shanghai and Changsha, the American specialists led workshops focusing on the issues museums starting or expanding youth education programs must confront. In Beijing, in lieu of a workshop, the American specialists participated in a major conference on museums and public education, the first effort of its kind in China, jointly organized by the National Art Museum of China and Columbia University Teachers College. The American specialists also took part in site visits to museums and other cultural institutions and briefings with relevant government agencies, schools, arts organizations, and media.
The second stage of the project brought a nine-person senior Chinese museum staff delegation to the United States. All participated in a two-week study tour to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York — three U.S. cities with vibrant cultural landscapes — where they had opportunities to meet with their counterparts at a broad array of cultural institutions, discuss their challenges and successes, and take a firsthand look at American museum educational programs focusing on youth.
At the completion of the study tour, three of the delegation’s nine members remained in New York for an additional four weeks and were placed as short-term fellows within the education departments of the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art/the Frick Collection. The fellowship placements were carefully chosen to reflect their home institutions’ interests and needs and focused on providing the fellows with practical experience in executing youth-focused education programs.