HE Jianfei 何鑒菲
Bei Shan Tang Foundation 北山堂基金

Shifted Perspectives: Interpretive Planning of Chinese Art Exhibitions at the ROM

This presentation will be on the way my perspectives shifted through my intensive museum practice at the Royal Ontario Museum. I offer 2 case studies, drawn from the planning of 2 exhibitions I was involved with at the ROM. The ROM is an Encyclopedia museum with one of the largest Asian collections outside Asia and an important cultural agency of Canada. Working there is a social practice, not just an intellectual or public practice, and it requires one to learn how to inspire critical dialogue through art in a place of expression and experience, imagination and reality, conception and creation.

It has benefitted my understanding of the field in a longer and broader way. As a coordinator of the exhibition “The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Last Emperors”, hosted by ROM and The Palace Museum, I worked with project management teams from initial concepts through final design. To explore the issue of cross-cultural understanding in traveling exhibitions, I also conducted in-depth interviews with the ROM’s Creative Team, Interpretive Planner, 2D and 3D designers, Project Manager, Marketing, Programs, Media Relations, Museum Volunteers departments, and the Institute for Contemporary Culture. I built on this experience as a curatorial lead in the Chinese Export Art exhibit planning, a show that reflected on the universal cultural phenomenon of gazing and embracing differences between different countries. More importantly, it has awoken in me the desire to thoroughly rethink how to enable a Western community to gain a sensibility to the arts and archaeology of Asia, and prepare me for my next step – establishing Chinese Art and Culture initiatives. Everything Foucault and everybody else says about "disciplinary boundaries" is contained in this shift and more.