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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

ACAA Forum 2016 in Toronto

The 2016 American Curators of Asian Art Forum was held on May 19th and 20th in Toronto. Hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum and the Aga Khan Museum, the forum had over sixty Asian Art curators from Canada, the USA and Mexico descend upon Toronto.

Despite lacking the curator credentials, I was kindly invited to the event by ROM hosts Dr Chen Shen and Dr Sascha Priewe. The majority of museums across North America with Asian Art collections were represented, from larger institutions such as the Met in NYC, Chicago Art Institute, Boston MFA, and the Arthur M. Sackler and the Freer Gallery of Art, to medium-sized institutions including the Rubin Museum, the Harvard Art Museum, and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Canadian institutions were represented by the ROM, the Aga Khan, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and Centre A in Vancouver.

The first day took place at the ROM and included sessions on Asian Art conference reports and new initiatives in museum practices, and the current ROM exhibitions Made in China: Cultural Exchanges through Export Art and A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints. The day ended with a tour of the ROM library and the storage facilities. The second day was at the Aga Khan and included museum tours, sessions on upcoming Asian Art exhibitions, and an open discussion on the topics discussed over the past two days. A shuttle bus took up back to the ROM where we enjoyed an open bar reception at the C5 lounge, followed by complimentary access to the ROM's Friday Night Live party.

The two days was an incredible learning experience for me. I was introduced to the challenges that Asian Art curators faced including exhibition planning/design, budget constraints, repatriation, and politics. The role of social media and the enticement of millennials to museums was heavily debated too. The latter was a main talking point since many millennials - with their limited funds and time - have myriad options for entertainment competing with a visiting a museum.

Some photos from the event:

1. Changes in Vancouver's China Town during the 1960's presented by Tyler Russell of Centre A, Vancouver

2. A visit to the ROM's Japanese storage room led by technician Gwen Adams

3. Upcoming exhibition of Chinese 'numbered' Jun Ware at the Harvard Art Museums presented by Melissa Moy

4. ROM hosts Sascha Priewe and Chen Shen introducing the 'open discussion' at the Aga Khan Museum

Changing of Vancovuer's China town in the 1960's by Tyler Russell of Centre A
Upcoming exhibition of 'numbered' Jun Ware at the Harvard Ar Museums
ROM hosts Dr Sascha Priewe and Dr Chen Shen at the Aga Khan Museum

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