Nancy Doll, director of UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum, traveled to Nanjing, China, this past fall as the only American to present at the first International Forum of Cultural Inheritance and Innovation.
Doll was invited to the conference because of her vast experience in curating and preserving modern and contemporary art, and also because of a visit that twenty-eight delegates from the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) paid to UNCG in 2012. The representatives of seven Chinese provinces had traveled to the United States specifically to see how the arts are developed, promoted and taught. During their three days at UNCG, they visited the Weatherspoon, receiving an introduction to it from Doll and her colleagues.
The October conference in Nanjing, organized in-part by Nanjing University, UNESCO and the CPAFFC, featured a mixture of scholars and cultural officials from all over the world, presenting on a variety of topics concerning the preservation of cultural heritage. For her presentation, Doll described the Weatherspoon and spoke about the challenges of collecting and preserving contemporary art. Her topic, she said, was of particular interest to scholars from China and other cultures traditionally focused on preserving centuries-old historical artifacts rather than contemporary work.
The International Forum of Cultural Inheritance and Innovation was highly international, and Doll remarked on the particular novelty of having simultaneous translations of many languages were available through headphones. Conference participants were given cultural tours of the Nanjing area, including the Nanjing Museum, which Doll described as impressive, particularly in its display practices. Doll also traveled to Shanghai to view the city, which she found visually, technologically and culturally inspiring.
“I think it altered my perspective, to be in touch with this extremely ancient, extremely enormous culture,” she said.
By Susan Kirby-Smith