IU's Mathers Museum one of three U.S. institutions to collaborate with Chinese museums

Nov. 19, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Mathers Museum of World Cultures is one of three U.S. institutions selected to collaborate with Chinese museums as part of a three-year program organized by the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society and funded by the Asia Program of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Beginning this year through 2016, the museum will participate in a series of conferences and professional exchanges of staff and resources, as well as work to develop new resources to support and share information about folklore studies scholarship in both countries. Mathers director Jason Jackson will travel to China in December to participate in the first meeting between the collaborating institutions.

"As with the fields of intangible cultural heritage and folklore studies, the Chinese museum sector is growing and changing at an incredible pace,” Jackson said. “I am thrilled that, through the museum’s participation in this project, IU faculty, staff and students will be able to learn from our Chinese colleagues and extend our institutional and professional networks. I also look forward to sharing our own experiences, collections and talents with our Chinese partners.”

The Chinese and U.S. partner museums will share research and best practices with each other, learning about institutional resources and initiatives, and will pursue specific goals such as the development of online cultural resources and traveling exhibitions. They’ll also investigate both nations’ policies and practices regarding intangible cultural heritage -- such as stories, skills, traditions and beliefs -- and how those policies may converge at an international level, setting the stage for global heritage preservation.

Chinese institutions selected for the project include the Yunnan Nationalities Museum in Kunming, Yunnan; the Guizhou Cultural Palace of Nationalities Museum in Guiyang City, Guizhou; and the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities in Nanning, Guangxi.

During Jackson's first visit to China next month, he and his fellow museum directors will be hosted by the Yunnan Nationalities Museum. They'll spend two days in discussions aimed at learning about the respective museums and planning the broader work to be pursued over the next three years. They will also participate in planned excursions around the region to learn about Chinese cultural groups and traditions.

Additional U.S. museums participating in the initiative are the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Michigan State University Museum in East Lansing, Mich.

The initiative builds upon six years of previous efforts by the American Folklore Society, and on 2011-13 funding from the Luce Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Lingnan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Asian Cultural Council and the China Ministry of Education.