Have you enjoyed our travelling stories? If you didn’t get chance to see them, there are some links at the end of this post. There is one last journey to take:
Manchester Museum accepted the historic Chinese collections into their collections as they develop the Chinese Culture Gallery.
Instead of asking an artist to respond to the collections, the curators invited a facilitator to use the items to explore how students who identified as Chinese perceived the museum’s understanding of Chinese culture through objects. Lockdown and Zoom allowed the facilitator to talk students who were in China in March 2021.
Using images of the artefacts as prompts they explored their personal preferences and interests with art, history and online experiences; their views on Chinese objects, art and history shown in the UK and made suggestions and recommendations for enhancing the Chinese Culture Gallery at Manchester Museum.
For these students, their own culture is China. And being in China, they are directly surrounded and embedded within the culture, and are interested in other cultures, including Western cultures and also other East Asian cultures.
There was doubt, however, that aspects of Chinese culture including language, cannot be fully interpreted, and understood. To help resolve this, participants considered it essential that the museum seeks different presentations of information and knowledge, as an act of intercultural communication and to try and deliver accurate, culturally informed knowledge which reflects and enhances cultural understanding.
Participants demonstrated intercultural communication, connectivity and alternative perspectives in respect of their own sociocultural and political stances. Using images of the artefacts, they explored the present and future understanding of the display of Chinese objects and art. This sheds light on the use of objects, art and history as tools to encourage curious exploration and as expressions of complex socio-cultural and political understandings, which is at the core of social interaction action.
The Manchester Museum’s new Chinese Culture Gallery is part of their much larger redevelopment which is scheduled to re-open in 2022.