Tag Archives: china

Reflections from China

Forbidden City  © TravelChinaGuide.com

Forbidden City © TravelChinaGuide.com

Just back from two weeks in China where MiJin and I were guests of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH).  The campaign to open hundreds of new museums has already begun.  The cultural sector has received significant government attention and investment.  Leaders point out that there is one museum for nearly every 450,000 persons in China (source China National Bureau of Statistics and Hunan Provincial Museum) while the ratio in the U.S. is more like one for every 17,642 persons (source: U.S. Census and AAM)—an important difference for a nation deeply proud of its cultural heritage and ambitious for recognition.  The government is pleased with its economic progress but concerned about materialism and corruption, seeing new value in museums’ communicating China’s spiritual and ethical traditions. There are a few private museums and almost all cultural organizations are supported and governed by the Ministry.  The Chinese are frank about their museums’ shortcomings and determined to improve them.

The scale and pace of development is breathtaking.  Beijing is a forest of Swedish cranes.  The GDP growth in the 90’s averaged 12% and a “slow-down” to 9% is still the envy of the U.S. and Europe. Having succeeded in manufacturing, the Chinese are determined to increase and diversify their service sector, and have found many unobtrusive ways for customers to evaluate the quality of services on offer. There is compulsory retirement for men at age 60, for women in civil service it is 55 and for those in state-run enterprises it is 50.  Developing health care for all and something like the U.S. Social Security system are important national agenda items.

There were many light moments. The English translation of “Do Not Disturb” in one hotel was “Leave Me Alone!”  MiJin and I were warmly welcomed everywhere, especially during our visits to 15 different museums and historic sites.  Conversations were honest and realistic.  I hope it is the first of many exchanges between SACH and GLI.

By Phil Nowlen, Executive Director, GLI

Reflections from Erbil

I recently had an opportunity to visit Iraqi Kurdistan with a team from the U.S.   Our mission was to support the work of the Iraqi Institute for Culture and Heritage (IICAH).  My responsibility was counseling the IICAH board, currently devoted to defining IICAH’s mission and strategy and the board’s structure and processes.  The team included conservation colleagues from a half dozen museums, the University of Delaware and the Getty Conservation Institute.  The board includes both Arab and Kurd Iraqis.  The Conservation Institute in Erbil occupies a modern building, formerly a library, and has outfitted several laboratories and classrooms.  The meetings were held in Erbil (sometimes spelled Arbil or Irbil), the major city of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).  Erbil boasts one of the oldest earthen citadels, several museums and an airport with direct service from Istanbul and Frankfurt (flying to Baghdad and renting a car is not yet recommended.)

Our scheduled meetings left us with a bit of time to see some of the countryside in Kurdistan.  Iraq isn’t just sandstorms and oil rigs.  The mountainous area in the northeast enjoys a moderate climate, an extensive river system dominated by the Tigris, lots of trees and grazing land.  Erbil itself shows almost no signs of the war, clearly benefiting from a no-fly zone enforced between the Gulf War and its successor.  The Kurds are incredibly entrepreneurial and have taken full advantage of their economic expansion.  The KRG has been generous to cultural institutions, including IICAH. A meeting held with the KRG Governor in Erbil triggered an additional pledge of $500K (US) to support IICAH’s work of training and conserving. The hospitality of our Iraqi hosts was warm and constant.

Next, MiJin and I travel to China at the invitation of the State  Administration for Culture and Heritage.

By Phil Nowlen, Executive Director, GLI

Latest Activities

by Phil Nowlen, Executive Director of the Getty Leadership Institute at  Claremont Graduate University (GLI at CGU)

In this, I hope one of many posts to come on our new Compleat Leader blog, I thought you might enjoy a snapshot of GLI at CGU.  We’ve been settling in nicely at our new home at Claremont Graduate University, and now in addition to Leonie, MiJin and I on staff at GLI, we are fortunate to have the help of Emily Jaksa, a recent Claremont Graduate University alum with an M.A. in arts management and an MBA from the Drucker School.  Sharing space with so many academics is truly a benefit, and we are enjoying being part of a continuing lunch conversation about leadership with some seventeen academics across the Claremont Colleges who are doing quite varied research about leadership.

This past summer marked a successful first offering of MLI: the Museum Leadership Institute at CGU.  Some of the participants will give you their own reactions to the program and the campus and provide you with a glimpse of our new environment.  Once again, MLI attracted a very strong group of U.S. and international participants.  MLI continues to evolve – we just can’t leave it alone.

NextGen is back! MiJin led the five-day program in the U.S. this past March and, last May, Leonie and MiJin traveled to Canada to offer NextGen: Canada, in collaboration with the Alberta Museums Association and the University of Alberta Museums, in Edmonton.  Next fall, NextGen will be offered on the east coast for the first time.

In the U.S., I continue to spend time exploring how GLI might strengthen museum boards.  If you are fortunate to have a well led, high performing board, I’d love to have an opportunity to speak with some of your trustees regarding this potential GLI project – perhaps even gathering them in regional one-day discussion about whether GLI can be of some help.

Meanwhile our international activities continue to expand.  We offered a program in Singapore and I will be going to Kurdish Iraq with a broad-based team to help rebuild the cultural ministry there and discuss how a new conservation institute in Erbil could achieve sustainability.  There are also continuing conversations with Qatar‘s Museums Authority.  In December, MiJin and I will be guests of the People’s Republic of China’s State Administration for Cultural Heritage (SACH). We will have discussions in BeiJing about how GLI and SACH might work together.