2019 Annual Symposium


April 28 – 30, 2019  |  Hosting Institution Zhi Art Museum, Chengdu

Organized to coincide with Chengdu Art Week, the second edition of Museum 2050’s annual symposium continued important conversations about the future of China’s cultural landscape and attracted a record 27,853 international livestream viewers as well as an in person audience of 76 in Chengdu over the course of the weekend. Defining Institutions: Proposals for Museums of the Future took place at Zhi Art Museum from April 28-30, and featured an academic conference, workshops for Museum 2050 Partnering Institutions, and cultural excursions around Chengdu.

Focusing on the question of potential new forms for institutions in China and how museums could better engage with artists, this year’s keynote presentations on April 28 by Alexie Glass Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace, Sydney and Curator of Encounters at Art Basel in Hong Kong, and Ning Wen, independent curator and researcher, addressed the ‘Opportunistic Museum’ in terms of commitments to commissioning, collecting and archiving and fundamental questions of feasible funding models respectively. Papers were presented by speakers of a range of backgrounds and this year’s sessions explored a wide range of future-facing issues. Diane Wang, Producer, Digital Programme at M+ considered how an institution might activate itself in the digital age, while curator and researcher Hugh Davies will survey the curation of games in China. Arthub Asia’s Paul Han presented research on the positioning of contemporary art within a historical collection, while independent curator and writer Danqing Xue pressed for the importance of institutional branding strategies as a tool for guiding local art museums. This symposium also featured two contributors from Beijing’s Inside Out Museum: Gaorui Sun, Departmental Assistant considered how idol culture and influencer economy are entering China’s institutions, while Curatorial Assistant Mengni Qian considered the relevancy of Inside Out Museum’s publishing practice and the opportunities that lie ahead. The day’s session closed with Chengdu artist Yinan Song who presented on the interactions between folk craft and high art, and between art and technology, and a presentation by Doctoral Researcher Diana Tay who rethought and redefined the role of the conservator. In addition to presentations on these themes, panel discussions brought out questions of how technology is dramatically altering audience engagement and how artists are and are not supported by institutions.

On April 29, Museum 2050 hosted a series of workshops in response to provide professional training in China’s rapidly transforming cultural landscape. Darren Barker, Founder & Director of Barker Langham, and Emily Hall, Director at Barker Langham led a workshop on The Alchemy of Planning a New Museum while China Residencies’ Founder & Director Kira Simon-Kennedy and Xiaoyao Xu, Residency Knowledge Fellow, gave attendees a how-to for developing their own residencies. Kevin Lam, Executive Director, Sinclair Communications, and Greg Young, Manager at Sinclair Arts, provided insights into developing an impactful public relations and marketing strategy for cultural institutions. The symposium was wrapped up on April 30 with visits for speakers and workshop participants to Art Chengdu, LUXELAKES•A4 Art Museum, and the newly opened Chengdu Contemporary Image Museum.

Museum 2050 is grateful for the support of Zhi Art Museum, China Residencies, the Australian Embassy Beijing, Sinclair Arts, and Barker Langham that made the symposium’s activities possible.The forthcoming proceedings featuring all the papers presented during the conference as well as contributions from the workshops by Barker Langham, China Residencies, and Sinclair Arts, will be launched to coincide with Shanghai Art Week in November.

The publication Defining Institutions: Proposals for Museums of the Future will be Museum 2050’s second such undertaking and demonstrates the platform’s ongoing commitment to creating a discourse around institutional development in China. Stay tuned for information about Museum 2050’s Call for Papers for the 2020 symposium, taking place at a new hosting institution, as well as upcoming appearances at Beijing’s Tsinghua Art Museum and the GAAB Collectors Summit in Warsaw, Poland.

Audiences explored the future of China’s cultural landscape in person and via livestream. The second edition of Museum 2050 was watched by over 27,000 livestreamers. 


Sunday, April 28

09:30     | Registration

10:00     | Opening Remarks

Nicole Ching & Leigh Tanner, Founders, Museum 2050

Christopher Lim, Australian Consul General, Chengdu

10:15     | Keynote Address

Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director, Artspace, Sydney & Curator, Encounters, Art Basel Hong Kong

The Opportunistic Museum: Commissions and Archives but not as we knew them

10:45     | Davide Quadrio, Founder & Director, Arthub Asia

Contemporary Art Within a Historical Collection

11:05     | Gaorui Sun, Departmental Assistant, Inside Out Museum

When Data Enters into Art Museums: The Effects of Idol Culture and Influencer Economies

11:25     | Diane Wang, Producer, Digital Programme, M+

Activating a Museum in the Digital Age

11:55     | Danqing Xue, Independent Curator and Writer

The Referential Value of Institutional Branding Strategies for Guiding Local Art Museums — A Case Study of the New Museum, New York

12:15     | Open Floor for Questions

14:15     | Opening Remarks

    Valerie Wang, Artistic Director of Zhi Art Museum

14:30     | Keynote Address

Ning Wen, Independent Curator & Researcher

Funding Private Museums in China: Feasible Models for the Future

15:00     | Mengni Qian, Curatorial Assistant, Inside Out Museum

The Publishing Practice of Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum in 2018 —Looking to Two Examples

15:20     | Hugh Davies, Curator and Researcher

Curating Games in China

15:40     | Yinan Song, Artist

Shadow Puppeteers: Interactions Between Folk Craft and High Art, Between Art and Technology,and Between Museums and their Public

16:00     | Diana Tay, Doctoral Researcher

In Contemporary Times: Rethinking and Redefining the Role of Conservators

16:20     | Open Floor for Questions

Monday, April 29

Monday, April 29

Workshop registration is open to staff of Museum 2050’s Partnering Institutions for a fee. If you’re interested in participating or have further questions, please email us at contact@museum2050.com.

10:00 – 12:00     | The Alchemy of Planning a New Museum

A workshop exploring the synthesis of key ingredients in the development of an effective museum masterplan.

Planning an innovative museum requires a special kind of alchemy: a blend of analytical skills and expressive thinking; narrative development and business planning; consultation and collaboration. Using iconic case-studies, speakers will draw on their global heritage experience to present the importance of the curatorial brief as the foundation of the museum masterplan. This session will explore how to use a collection and its stories as a foundation for that brief and will consider the challenge of distilling disparate collection stories into one overarching narrative to captivate a wide range of audiences, while simultaneously meeting the wider aims of the project. Attendees will learn how to apply the concepts of the curatorial narrative into the master planning process and will gain a deeper understanding of museum development processes around the world. 

Darren Barker, Founder & Director, Barker Langham 

Emily Hall, Director, Barker Langham 

Yanqiu Autumn Dai, Associate & China Representative, Barker Langham

14:00 – 16:00     | Living & Working in the Museum: Residencies Embedded in Cultural Institutions

More and more museums in China are creating residencies to host artists from both China and abroad, inviting them to live, work, and explore new ideas for months at a time. These embedded residencies create new opportunities for different kinds of exchanges between artists and the public. Through open studios, workshops, and by simply allowing museum staff to see works-in-progress, these residencies shed light on opaque processes and answer simple questions like: “What do artists actually do all day?” and “How do artists create work?”

By inviting artists to research and create onsite, these residencies directly shape the works’ impact and accessibility for local audiences, opening up possibilities of exchange and collaboration with local artists, manufacturers, and universities. Drawing upon examples of institutions in mainland China, based on extensive interviews with past participants and site visits, this workshop will present best practices for establishing an embedded residency at a museum in China today.

Kira Simon-Kennedy, Founder & Director, China Residencies

Xiaoyao Xu, Residency Knowledge Fellow, China Residencies

16:30 – 18:30     | To selfie or not to selfie?: Arts Marketing and Public Relations

Understanding your institution and knowing how to communicate its mission to different audiences are two separate things. As such, marketing is an area where many institutions struggle to fully convey their vision. This workshop will provide an overview of a variety of integrated public relations and marketing disciplines, as well as offer best practices for how to market your institution according to its long-term objectives. From media relations to content planning, influencer marketing and social media, this session will support its participants in developing strategic solutions to help resource-pressed institutions, with assistance in the development of timelines and how to measure deliverables.

Kevin Lam, Executive Director, Sinclair

Greg Young, Manager, Sinclair Arts

About Zhi Art Museum

Located at the foot of Chengdu’s Laojun Mountain in southwestern China with a focus on modern and contemporary art, Zhi Art Museum’s serene architecture brings to life the beauty and tranquility of Zen. An iconic work by renowned Japanese master architect, Kengo Kuma, the museum embodies the Eastern philosophy of “Learning from Nature.” The museum itself was founded in 2016 and its architectural features are based on the core concepts of: Universality, Insight, and Innovation. ZHI ART MUSEUM’s inaugural show Open curated by Zhang Ga initiated the institution’s exhibition program in April of 2018 with works by Zhang Peili, Wang Gongxing, Mariko Mori and Carsten Nicolai, among others. In September of 2018, the museum presented a retrospective of the late 20th century artist Luis Chan.

Registration Info