Researching Art in China

This past summer, I was awarded a research grant to study art and museums in China from the Henry Luce Foundation. I spent 5 weeks traveling to many cities in China and working at the Shanghai Museum! Many of you may know me as Ethan’s assistant, but I am also a graduate student at St. Thomas, working towards my MA in Art History!

My professors knew that I wanted to travel to China to study art and intern in a museum before I completed my degree, so they helped me make it happen! I worked closely with Dr. Elizabeth Kindall to find a grant that was suitable for my proposed project, and she also helped me edit my application materials. Elizabeth also contacted the Shanghai Museum and arranged my internship, the second component of my grant application. I was so grateful for her help, and know that this type of relationship is unique to St. Thomas. I not only came away from the grant writing process with a new set of writing skills, I also developed a really close relationship with my professor.

Me and my professor, Elizabeth.

Visiting a garden in Suzhou.

I was officially awarded the grant in the spring, and then the planning commenced! My classmate Floris was also awarded a grant to study in China. I was so excited to travel with another Tommie! Elizabeth has traveled to China many times before for her own research, and she shared her expertise with both of us.

I arrived in Beijing on June 21 with Floris (we met Elizabeth at the airport!). We visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven during the first three days. We also visited contemporary artist Liu Dan, who we hosted for a panel at the University of St. Thomas as a part of our Contemporary Chinese Art Seminar in fall 2016. It was a great follow up to our panel talk last fall at St. Thomas!

In Tiananmen Square with Floris.

From there we traveled to Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Suzhou, and Yangzhou before ending in Shanghai. During that time, we visited many different museums and historical sites. Elizabeth taught us how to properly photograph a site, what questions to ask when visiting sites, and how to take good notes while researching. Floris and I learned how to work together and help each other with our own research projects!

With Floris in Hangzhou.

Visiting the Long Museum in Shanghai.

Floris and Elizabeth left after a few days in Shanghai, and I stayed to intern at the Shanghai Museum in the education department! I don’t speak Mandarin very well, so I had a work partner who helped translate. She was very nice and helpful and became a good friend. During my time at the museum, I helped edit various texts and conducted a visitor survey for foreign guests. It was really rewarding, and I learned a lot about museums in China.

At work!

Visiting the Propaganda Poster Art Center on my day off.

On July 24, I said goodbye to Shanghai (my favorite city), the amazing food, the hot weather, and my new friends. I was very sad to leave, but grateful for the opportunity to research and travel in China! I feel really lucky to be a Tommie, and know that this experience was only possible because of the emphasis St. Thomas places on student research opportunities and close relationships with professors!

Noodles!

View of the Shanghai Museum from the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.

-Jayne, International Admissions

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