Reimagining the future of culture

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"We're holding an egg, and if it falls to the ground,the white and yolk will flow out, and that's our vision for future museums," Tang Jing, a sculpture major at Beijing's Tsinghua University, said as part of her team's presentation on the future of museums.

Clock conservator Wang Jin demonstrates a repaired antique timepiece to students from the Bi-city Youth Cultural Leadership Programme during their visit to the Palace Museum in Beijing. CHINA DAILY

Tang explained that the way the team see it, the eggshell is like the physical and mental barriers preventing people from simply walking into a museum, so they plan to break those barriers to attract more visitors in the future.

The student team is made up of six college students from Beijing and Hong Kong, and was one of three sharing their ideas for future museums,touching on topics from designing brochures to improving the connection with new media at the second edition of the Bi-city Youth Cultural Leadership Programme, which began in July.

The presentations were part of a cultural exchange session at the Palace Museum in Beijing on Aug 22, during which the 16 participating students from the three teams engaged in an insightful discussion with experts on topics like encouraging the inheritance of Chinese culture, the future of cultural enterprises, and the use of technology and innovation in cultural promotion.

Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum, is impressed by the proposals for attracting more visitors to museums and improving the visiting experience.

He says he has been looking forward to seeing the feedback, as well as the updates to the creative ideas.

Last year, the Hong Kong Palace Museum launched its flagship youth-learning initiative, the Bi-city Youth Cultural Leadership Programme, to reinforce its long-standing commitment to encouraging cultural inheritance and fostering cultural exchange.

Louis Ng, director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, says that the mission lies at the museum's core.

He explains the program as a cultural exchange platform for youth in Beijing and Hong Kong to spark creativity and broaden their horizons, with the goal of nurturing the next generation of cultural talents.

"We look forward to this initiative bringing positive and far-reaching influence on nurturing and inspiring future cultural leaders, thereby supporting the two cities in their endeavor to make Chinese culture 'go global', and strengthening Hong Kong's position as an international hub for future cultural and art leaders," he says.

In February, the first edition of the program, which was comprised of eight online exchange activities, concluded with the participation of 95 university students from the two cities.

With Swire Properties as its lead sponsor, the two-year program is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Palace Museum and the Beijing Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Since its launch, the program has been the focus of enthusiastic participation by students attending universities and tertiary institutions in Hong Kong and Beijing.

For the second edition, 16 outstanding students have been chosen to join a two-month immersive learning program.

In addition to visiting the Hong Kong Palace Museum, the students also attended talks hosted by sector experts,joined a design mindset and innovative workshop, visited other art and cultural landmarks, such as Taikoo Li Sanlitun and ArtDist in Beijing, as well as Blue House in Hong Kong.

They also had four-week internships at some of Hong Kong's leading cultural and art institutions, including the Hong Kong Palace Museum, M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District Performing Arts Division, and four museums managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

Lou Cheuk Hang, who studies Chinese History and Art History at the University of Hong Kong interned at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

He says that it was quite difficult to get a museum internship in Hong Kong,but thanks to the program, he was able to do so.

"During the last week of our internship, we designed a relatively complete plan for the workshop, which gave me a real sense of achievement," he says."This experience opened my eyes and has shown me the different possibilities in the museum sector."

During the trip to the Palace Museum,the students visited the Department of Conservation Science to learn about the use of technology in artifact conservation, and also watched a VR video and visited some of the museum's other galleries and attractions.

"The Palace Museum has long recognized the significance of cultural exchange and integration between Beijing and Hong Kong," says Lou Wei,deputy director of the Palace Museum.

"We are glad to have partnered with the Hong Kong Palace Museum, to cultivate the next generation of visionary young cultural leaders, foster cultural creativity in both cities, and showcase the excellence of traditional Chinese culture to the world."

He adds that the endeavor will help China's 5,000-year civilization to continue to thrive through ongoing exchange and learning.

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