Asian Cultural Council: NEW GRANT SUPPORTS TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT WITH CHINESE MUSEUM
A new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, will establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China.
The grant is the first ever to Michigan State University and recognizes the MSU Museum’s work in folk and traditional arts, and the home of the state’s Michigan Traditional Arts Program. The Yunnan Nationalities Museum, opened in 1995, presents the history and culture of 55 ethnic minority groups in China and has extensive folk and traditional arts programs. Both museum share a special interest in identifying, preserving and sharing traditional arts expressions -- hand-made craft work passed down from one generation to the next, music and dance traditions, regional and ethnic celebrations, foodways and localized culinary specialties, or distinct natural resources that are used in art-making.
The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.
"We are especially pleased to receive this grant from the Asian Cultural Council as it will enable our two museums to work together using digital strategies to enhance the access to our Chinese collections and to develop collaborative projects between our two museums---and other ethnographic and folk museums in China and the US,” notes C. Kurt Dewhurst, MSU Museum curator of folklife and cultural heritage and University Outreach & Engagement director of arts and cultural initiatives.
The MSU Museum has worked for many years in the area of traditional arts collection development, research, field documentation, digital collection use and access, education, and on-site and traveling exhibitions. Along with the MATRIX: Digital Humanities Center at MSU, the MSU Museum has developed innovative training programs for cultural heritage repositories that preserve and create unparalleled access to cultural collections for research and educational use.
This summer, the MSU Museum will host four curators and museum professionals from the Yunnan Nationalities Museum to share digital strategies for museums with a special focus on folk and ethnographic collections, exhibitions and programs. The visit is timed to lead up to the MSU Museum’s Great Lakes Folk Festival (Aug. 10-12), so the Chinese museum workers can also observe how the MSU Museum integrates its research and fieldwork into large-scale festival programming.
Beyond the grant, MSU Museum curators are currently developing a textile exhibition that will open at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum in the fall.
The Asian Cultural Council supports international dialogue, understanding and respect through cultural exchanges and supports artists and scholars in Asia and the United States. The Council was established in 1980 to carry forward the mission of the Asian Cultural Program of the JDR 3rd Fund, which was created by John D. Rockefeller 3rd.
The MSU Museum is the natural science and culture museum at Michigan State University and the state's first Smithsonian Institution affiliate. The MSU Museum -- accredited by the American Association of Museums -- collects, preserves, studies and interprets cultural artifacts and natural history specimens, with collections numbering more than 1 million in four buildings on the MSU campus. One of the oldest museums in the Midwest, the MSU Museum is committed to education, exhibitions, research and the building and stewardship of collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship to the Great Lakes and the world beyond.