From September 25 to 28, 2016, Asia Society, in partnership with the American Federation of Arts, the Chinese Museums Association, and the Nanjing Museum, convened the U.S.-China Museum Summit in New York City. The Summit brought together museum and cultural leaders from both countries to foster connections, reaffirm their commitment to working together long-term, explore opportunities for cultural exchange, and develop tangible plans for ongoing institutional collaborations. Examining the priorities and challenges faced by museums in both countries through the lens of critical topics, such as leadership, funding, and governance, the Summit provided a forum for participation in panel discussions, networking meetings, and museum visits. The Summit concluded with a public program at Asia Society, exploring the multifaceted ways in which U.S. and Chinese museums engage with their communities.

The conversations of the 2016 Summit built on the dialogues on U.S.-China museum partnerships and exchanges that were the focus of three earlier conferences: “Meeting the West: Exhibitions from American Museums” (Nanjing, 2014), organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Nanjing Museum, and the “U.S.-China Museum Leaders Forum” (Shanghai and Hangzhou, 2014) and “U.S.-China Museum Directors Forum” (Beijing, 2012), both organized by Asia Society and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.


It is our distinct pleasure to welcome you to the U.S.-China Museum Summit, an initiative that builds on the work that the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and Asia Society, New York, have engaged in over the past five years to foster increased collaboration between museums and cultural organizations in China and the United States. This is the largest gathering of its kind, bringing together approximately twenty museum leaders from China and thirty from the United States. We are proud to join our colleagues in hosting you in New York. It is our hope that the presentations, panel discussions, and more intimate personal gatherings will be insightful, thought-provoking, and instrumental in building and securing a strong foundation for future successful collaborative exchanges, collection sharing, and traveling exhibitions.

Considering the extraordinary number of new museums and the rapidly expanding, vibrant art scene in China, the growing interest in Chinese art and culture in America and in Western art in China, as well as increased attendance in museums in both countries, we feel strongly that this is a particularly propitious moment for both sides to explore new and promising areas of constructive interaction.

We would like to thank our partners in this endeavor, the Chinese Museums Association and the Nanjing Museum, whose commitment to international collaboration has been crucial to the success of this Summit. We also acknowledge the immense undertaking that the development and planning of this significant event has meant, and we would like to thank key members of the AFA and Asia Society staff for their incredible work: Michelle Hargrave, Kelly Ma, Nick Pozek, Wu Heng, Shawn Yuan, as well as Catherine Hong, Lindsey O’Connor, and Kirstin Purtich, who have been integral to the success of this Summit.

We hope you enjoy the U.S-China Museum Summit, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of this wonderful collaboration!

Boon Hui Tan
Vice President of Global Arts & Cultural Programs
and Director of Asia Society Museum

Pauline Willis
Director, American Federation of Arts

Two years ago, the Nanjing Museum, in partnership with the American Federation of Arts, organized “Meeting the West: Exhibitions from American Museums,” a forum attended by more than fifty museum directors from China and the United States who conducted in-depth discussions on museum collaborations between the two countries. During my meeting with Ms. Pauline Willis after the forum, both of us expressed the intention to further promote such dialogues and exchanges and make it a regular practice. Today, I am thrilled to see that through the joint efforts of the AFA, Asia Society, and the Chinese Museums Association, the U.S.-China Museum Summit is held in New York. I would like to thank the AFA and Asia Society for their great efforts in organizing this Summit: your thoughtful and considerate arrangements are most appreciated. I am grateful for the directors and cultural representatives who found time in their busy schedules to come to New York for this Summit: thank you for your commitment to the exchanges and collaborations between museums. My special thanks goes to staff members who have worked tirelessly organizing this Summit: it is your passion and dedication that turns the intention to strengthen museum dialogues and collaborations into reality.

I wish the Summit a great success.

Gong Liang
Vice President of the Board of Chinese Museums Association
Director of Nanjing Museum


Sunday, September 25

Cocktail Reception

Guided tour of No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki, Zhang Peili: Continuous Reproduction, and In and Out of Context: Asia Society Celebrates the Collections at 60 with Michelle Yun, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Adriana Proser, John H. Foster Senior Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art.

Welcome Dinner sponsored by K11 Art Foundation

Monday, September 26

Welcome and Inaugural Remarks

  • Anthony Marx, president & chief executive officer, New York Public Library
  • Pauline Willis, director, American Federation of Arts
  • Boon Hui Tan, vice president of global arts & cultural programs and director of Asia Society Museum
  • Gong Liang, vice president of the board, Chinese Museums Association, and director, Nanjing Museum
  • Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Keynote Presentation and Moderated Discussion

Moderator: Gong Liang, director, Nanjing Museum

  • Martin Roth, director, Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Hsueh-man Shen, associate professor, Ehrenkranz chair in world art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Panel Discussion I: Successful Collaborations

Panelists and other participants will discuss institutional partnerships, with a focus on initial motivations, challenges faced, and ultimate benefits. This panel will familiarize attendees with a range of high-level and political issues involved in collaborations between the two countries and provide a foundation for subsequent dialogue throughout the Summit.

Moderators: Tom Loughman, director and CEO, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; and Ren Wanping, deputy director, Palace Museum

  • Alex Nyerges, director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  • Chen Shen, vice president and senior curator, Royal Ontario Museum
  • Luo Huaqing, deputy director, Dunhuang Research Academy
  • Wang Qizhi, deputy director, Nanjing Museum

Presentation and Lunch sponsored by MAD Architects

Chinese Museum Presentations I

Chinese museum leaders will discuss their institutions and one to three specific strategies or goals for working with U.S. museums.

Moderator: Zhang Wei, deputy director, the Museum of the Imperial Palace of Manchukuo

  • Ren Wanping, deputy director, Palace Museum
  • Zhang Zikang, deputy director, National Art Museum of China
  • Liu Wentao, deputy director, Nanjing Museum
  • Li Shengneng, deputy director, Shenyang Palace Museum
  • Chen Yongyun, deputy director, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Museum

Panel Discussion II: Philosophies and Missions

Panelists will examine the profound differences and increasing similarities in U.S. and Chinese museological philosophies and ideologies; how these perspectives affect governance, programming, collections management, physical spaces, interpretation of objects, community outreach, and museum partnerships; and how U.S.-China partnerships can fulfill missions of museums in both countries and serve their communities.

Moderators: William Griswold, director and president, Cleveland Museum of Art; and Zhang Huiguo, deputy director, Shanxi Museum

  • Kaywin Feldman, Duncan and Nivin MacMillan director and president, Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Glenn Lowry, director, Museum of Modern Art
  • Wei Jun, director, Guangdong Museum
  • Huang Xueyin, deputy director, Capital Museum

Understanding the System: The Life of an Exhibition Project in American Museums

This short session will start with brief presentations by four U.S. museum leaders on the process of developing and realizing exhibitions at their institutions.

Moderator: Dorothy Kosinski, director, Phillips Collection

  • E. Michael Whittington, president and CEO, Oklahoma City Museum of Art
  • Rod Bigelow, director, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Roxana Velásquez, director, San Diego Museum of Art
  • Timothy Rub, George D. Widener director and chief executive officer, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Chinese Museum Presentations II

Moderator: Li Shengneng, deputy director, Shenyang Palace Museum

  • Zhang Wei, deputy director, Museum of the Imperial Palace of Manchukuo
  • Cheng Yi, deputy director, Suzhou Museum
  • Wang Zhenfen, director, Lushun Museum
  • Chen Tongle, deputy director, Jiangsu Art Museum

Viewing of Xu Zhen exhibition at James Cohan Gallery

Dinner at Bottino sponsored by James Cohan Gallery

Tuesday, September 27

Breakfast and Conversation: Collector’s Perspectives

  • Sylvain Levy, co-founder, DSL Collection
  • Noelle Xie, art advisor
  • Richard Armstrong, director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation

Panel Discussion III: Priorities and Challenges

What are the main priorities and major challenges facing museums in both the U.S. and China, and how can museum outreach help solve these issues?

Panelists will discuss how museums are embracing diversity and changing demographics, finding younger audiences, considering social and civic responsibility, and working to be more inclusive, as well as the role that collaborations can play in helping institutions stay true to their core missions and remain relevant to the broader public.

Moderators: Jay Xu, director, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; and Wang Qizhi, deputy director, Nanjing Museum

  • Steven Kern, director and CEO, Newark Museum
  • Christoph Heinrich, director, Denver Art Museum
  • Zhang Zikang, deputy director, National Art Museum of China
  • Luo Xiangjun, director, Hebei Provincial Museum

Chinese Museum Presentations III

Moderator: Liu Wentao, deputy director, Nanjing Museum

  • Huang Xueyin, deputy director, Capital Museum
  • Luo Xiangjun, director, Hebei Provincial Museum
  • Zhang Huiguo, deputy director, Shanxi Museum
  • Wei Jun, director, Guangdong Museum
  • Luo Huaqing, deputy director, Dunhuang Research Academy

Presentation and Lunch Sponsored by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Panel Discussion IV: Leadership and Funding

While boards, foundations, and private collectors have long played central roles in the development of U.S. museums’ programming and collections, these entities are only now becoming more prevalent in and relevant to Chinese institutions. This session will discuss the various types of funding needed to realize international collaborations and the role U.S.-China partnerships can play in generating museum support.

Moderators: Brian Ferriso, Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. director, Portland Art Museum; and Wang Zhenfen, director, Lushun Museum

  • Dan L. Monroe, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo director and CEO, Peabody-Essex Museum
  • Fritz Huang, assistant general manager, K11 Art Foundation, Shanghai
  • Elizabeth Glassman, president and CEO, Terra Foundation for American Art
  • Ren Wanping, deputy director, Palace Museum
  • Cheng Yi, deputy director, Suzhou Museum

Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Closing Reception

Press Event


American Participants

Pauline Willis, American Federation of Arts
Boon Hui Tan, Asia Society
Jay Xu, Asian Art Museum
Sharon Matt Atkins, Brooklyn Museum
William M. Griswold, Cleveland Museum of Art
Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Eugene A. Jenneman, Dennos Museum Center
Christoph Heinrich, Denver Art Museum
Jaap Hoogstraten, Field Museum of Natural History
Robin Graeme Nicholson, Frick Art & Historical Center
Kaywin Feldman, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Glenn D. Lowry, Museum of Modern Art
Julián Zugazagoitia, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Catherine L. Futter, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Steven Kern, Newark Museum
E. Michael Whittington, Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Dan L. Monroe, Peabody Essex Museum
Timothy Rub, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dorothy Kosinski, Phillips Collection
Brian Ferriso, Portland Art Museum
Josh Basseches, Royal Ontario Museum
Chen Shen, Royal Ontario Museum
Katherine C. Luber, San Antonio Museum of Art
Roxana Velásquez, San Diego Museum of Art
Zora Hutlová Foy, Seattle Art Museum
Richard Armstrong, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Shengtian Zheng, Vancouver Art Gallery
Alex Nyerges, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Tom J. Loughman, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Chinese Participants

Gong Liang, Nanjing Museum
Wang Qizhi, Nanjing Museum
Liu Wentao, Nanjing Museum
Huang Xueyin, Capital Museum
Luo Huaqing, Dunhuang Academy
Wei Jun, Guangdong Museum
Luo Xiangjun, Hebei Provincial Museum
Chen Tongle, Jiangsu Art Museum
Wang Zhenfen, Lushun Museum
Zhang Zikang, National Art Museum of China
Chen Yongyun, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Museum
Ren Wanping, Palace Museum
Zhang Huiguo, Shanxi Museum
Li Shengneng, Shenyang Palace Museum

Summit Guests

Martin Roth, Victoria and Albert Museum
Hsueh-Man Shen, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Sylvain Levy, DSL Collection
Fritz Huang, K11 Art Foundation
Elizabeth Glassman, Terra Foundation for American Art
Noelle Xie, Maxim Global

Public Program

Public Program: U.S. and Chinese Museums and Their Communities

In this public event, leaders from U.S. and Chinese museums discussed the role that museums play within their respective communities, addressing some fundamental and important questions: What do museum leaders in both countries feel a museum’s mission should be? What are a museum’s civic and social responsibilities? How do U.S. and Chinese museums aim to serve their public? Do these communities have different expectations for their museums? Do these expectations affect the way artwork is presented and interpreted? What are the methods used by museums in both countries to effectively engage their audiences? In the twenty-first century, how do museums make historical material relevant to visitors? This discussion was moderated by Boon Hui Tan, director of Asia Society Museum.

Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director of Exhibitions and Collections Management, Brooklyn Museum
Catherine L. Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Nelson-Atkins Museum
Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of the Arts of Asia, Newark Museum
Qizhi Wang, Deputy Director, Nanjing Museum
Heng Wu, Deputy Director of Cultural Exchange Center, Nanjing Museum


The American Federation of Arts and Asia Society are grateful to the following supporters for their generous contribution to the 2016 U.S.-China Museum Summit:

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
Terra Foundation for American Art
The Julis-Rabinowitz Family Art Initiative
K11 Art Foundation
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
MAD Architects
DSL Collection
Ennead Architects

Additional support provided by: Brooklyn Museum, Chambers Fine Art, James Cohan Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library, Sotheby’s, Warwick Hotel, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Noelle Xie.