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Home Events & Trade News Curator makes museum a hip place to visit
Curator makes museum a hip place to visit
Event & Exhibition
Fan Di'an

With a record number of 51,000 visitors turning up at the National Art Museum of China over the weekend for the Dunhuang display, museum curator Fan Di'an has not stopped smiling.

The 53-year-old art historian is among the few in the Beijing artistic set to sport designer haircuts and don fitted suits - the norm is a shabby look.

Before being appointed, in December 2005, as the fourth curator in the museum's 45-year history, he was the vice-president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and also a prominent critic.

The art veteran is also a new face among the nation's political advisors: He became a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in January, and is to propose at the upcoming annual session a solution to a chronic problem Chinese museums face.

"Currently, any artworks that are donated from overseas are taxed at a high rate when they enter the country. As a result, museums find it difficult to accept donations from overseas artists, collectors and museums," he said. "I will propose that such donations be tax free."

Fan is currently engaged in finding a location for a new museum, which has been approved. "Maybe in the Olympic Village, we will have a really big thing," he said.

Ever since he took the helm of the premier institution, Fan has greatly expanded its program by collaborating with leading museums across the world.

Among the most popular shows last year were the blockbuster "Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation" with the Guggenheim; and the "From Tiziano to Goya: Masterpieces from the Prado Museum" with the Spanish national museum.

Following their success, institutions such as the Tate Modern in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York have sought to work together with the Beijing museum, which has organized exhibitions of modern and contemporary Chinese art and sent them on world tours.

Fan is enthusiastic about working with international museums partly because he wants his staff to learn from foreign colleagues.

"Chinese museums, in general, are extremely short of professionals. I have been trying my best to recruit professionals in art history or administration in the past two years, but still have to say that the performance of my staff is far from satisfactory," he said.

"Sometimes museum people can be like many others at State-owned organizations - working hard only when pushed hard."

Museum employees have to change their mindset from "serving the artists" to "serving the public", he noted.

"The museum used to be like a party place for artists, where they invited friends on the opening day of their exhibitions and had few visitors afterwards," said Fan.

"I want more people to come, so I am trying to put up the right show at the right time, like the Lights of Dunhuang that runs through to March 21."

(Source: Chinadaily)