Australian Consulate-General
Chengdu, China

Museum 2050 and Zhi Art Museum 2019 Annual Symposium Opening Remarks

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.


It’s my pleasure to join you today at the Second Annual Museum 2050 Symposium.


As an avid history buff, I’m very excited to be able to attend today’s event.


Growing up, I would spend my weekends visiting museums.


I revelled in the ancient worlds, as well as the contemporary historical scenarios, these museums recreated, savouring the inspiration they brought and the lessons they taught.


I felt like I was reliving history.


But, over the last few decades, museums, like their fellow institutions libraries and galleries, have faced unprecedented challenges. 


Massive advances in digital technology mean people now access a personalised feed of images, video and text in their pockets, providing instant gratification – meaning fewer are making the trip to their local museum.


Curators, like many of you, have been on the front lines.  Some have gone so far as to say that it is the end of the museum as we know it.


But this notion is overstated.  Like many professions and businesses, museums need to adjust with the times to remain relevant. 


While not all museums have weathered the digital storm, the ones that have are finding new and creative ways to be part of their audiences’ lives.


Those that do well play a key role in their communities, connecting individuals to the world around them.


Knowing your audience and offering them a personalised experience of discovery and learning – that is the way forward in this new environment.


Zhi Art Museum is a great example.  It is much more than a museum – it is a place of ideas, experiences and discoveries, a place for the spoken word as well as for objects of beauty, and a place for bringing people together.


Over the next few days, you will have the pleasure of getting to know one of Australia’s best-known curators – Alexie Glass-Kantor. 


Alexie has travelled from Sydney with the support of the Australian Government.


Her institution Artspace is dedicated to supporting contemporary art.


They host a year-round program of research residencies, talks, performances and publishing initiatives.


In particular, I know she is excited to share with you the success of the “Encounters” sector for Art Basel this year.


In the coming days, I encourage you to hear about Alexie’s experiences and catch a glimpse of the future of Australian museums.


Because of Artspace, and institutions like it, I am proud to say our cultural sector is in good health in Australia.


As a Consulate, one of our key roles is to ensure our local audiences in southwest China have the opportunity to learn more about Australian culture, with our museums and their exhibitions an important conduit for this.


That is why, for example, we are supporting the National Museum of Australia to bring out their Old Masters Aboriginal bark painting exhibition to the Sichuan Museum this June.


It is the first time for this exhibit to travel outside of Australia, and a fantastic opportunity for the people of Chengdu to come into contact with one of Australia and the world’s most ancient and unique art forms.


I encourage you all to visit!


Finally, may I wish you all the best for what I am sure will be a productive and enlightening Symposium.


Thank you.