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June 28, 2019

Plenary | Asian Art Museums and Collections in the World

In recent years, ICOM’s sphere of influence and activities have greatly expanded in Asia.

ICOM Kyoto 2019 will be the third general conference to be held in East Asia following those in Seoul in 2004 and Shanghai in 2010. Together with this expansion, ICOM’s membership has grown to include more individuals working in Japan, China, and Korea and, accordingly, more members from museums and collections of Asian art in East Asia and around the world.

At the same time, contemporary museum goers do not need to travel to East Asia to see Asian art. Whether exported through historical trade routes or by contemporary collectors, Asian art works can be found in museums around the world. Though many art works from East Asia, such as lacquers or scroll paintings on fragile silk or paper, have specialised handling and conservation requirements and deep cultural background, there are few established means for museums housing such collections to gain or share expertise with their international colleagues.

In the realm of Japanese art, some potential answers to these problems have been set forth by a binational Art Dialogue Committee of CULCON (The United States-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange. Since 2011, this committee has discussed how to foster young curators and scholars and how to enhance professional development of Japanese and Asian art curators through networking. This has led to the implementation of programs such as the Tokyo National Museum’s Curatorial Exchange Program for Japanese Art Specialists, held every year since 2014. At the 28th CULCON in June 2018, the committee formally proposed that ICOM Kyoto 2019 could provide important opportunities for the arts community to engage a new generation of Japanese culture enthusiasts into this dialogue.

The plenary session Asian Art Museums and Collections in the World will offer a chance to consider how international networking and other endeavours can help foster better presentation and understanding of East Asian art in museums around the world.


Harvard University, United States


Masatomo KAWAI
Director, Chiba City Miseum of Art, Japan

Min-Jung KIM
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australia

Christoph LIND

Anne Nishimura MORSE
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, United States

ICOM Kyoto 2019

Between the 1st and the 7th of September 2019, Kyoto (Japan) will host the biggest and most important conference of museums in the world. More than 3.000 museum professionals and experts from all international backgrounds will participate in this triannual event, the 25th General Conference of ICOM.  After 24 successful editions, ICOM’s flagship conference has become a worldwide reputed hub for exchange about the topical issues museums tackle today, as well as the most innovative solutions.

ICOM Kyoto 2019 website