Minister promotes museum exchanges

CULTURAL CROSSINGS::The heads of some of New York’s most famous art institutions supported the minister’s ideas for cooperation between museums

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - Page 4

Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) on Thursday said she hoped that New York’s elite museums could help train young Taiwanese artists through interchange programs and that the museums would exchange collections.

Lung has expressed on several occasions her desire to promote international cultural exchanges, and that was one of her main goals during her visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

She pushed the idea of having Taiwanese artists benefit from learning from New York museums and also envisioned professional exchanges where young exhibition planners in Taiwan could have a chance to broaden their international perspective.

Alexandra Munroe, a Samsung senior curator of Asian Arts at the Guggenheim Museum, supported Lung’s ideas.

Munroe said the Guggenheim, which has a comprehensive internship system, would be willing to train outstanding young artists from Taiwan.

She said the museum has already set up a training and exchange program with Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which allows outstanding Taiwanese artists and exhibition planners to learn from the art museum.

Lung was also interested in gaining a better understanding of the New York museums’ management systems and how they handle their finances and raise sufficient funds. She learned that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is also struggling amid a weak economy.

Maxwell Hearn, the head of the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Asian Arts, said that ticket sales is not the museum’s main source of income. The facility allows visitors to pay whatever sum for admission they want, resulting in an average ticket price lower than US$12, less than half the recommended US$25.

Instead, the museum’s main source of funding comes from local government subsidies and private donations from entrepreneurs and individuals.

However, Hearn said donations from private sources have dropped in recent years because of the global economic crisis, and the museum has been forced to lay off staff.

Munroe said the Guggenheim has been less affected by the global economic woes than the Metropolitan Museum because it is much smaller.

The museum also does not have as many different departments for different types of art, which prevents infighting between departments over limited resources and leads to a streamlined use of funds, Munroe said.

Lung arrived in New York on Tuesday as part of a tour of North America that runs from Aug. 21 to Sept. 9. Her next stop is planned to be in Washington on Monday.