This is the first of a series of interviews I am doing with museum people currently working with China. I will ask them about their “parcours” (how they got involved with China), their impressions before and after visiting China, the advice they would have wished to have before working with China and their current projects with Chinese museums. Let me know if you want to be part of it and share your China experience with my readers.
– Yu Zhang
Claude Faubert is currently the coordinator for the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies (ICOM-ITC), a collaboration between ICOM, ICOM China and the Palace Museum. He used to be the VP, Collection & Research at Canada Science and Technology Museums Corp. in Ottawa, Canada and was involved in ICOM for decades. I worked with him during my years at ICOM on various projects and we spent good time in Beijing for ICOM-ITC.
Claude was first in China in 2010. China had always been on his bucket list and he thought back in 2010 that the ICOM General Conference in Shanghai would be his one and only chance to visit China. So he did the usual things first time visitors do. He stayed 5-6 days in Beijing before going to Shanghai, visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, went to a few museums and then took the train to Shanghai — almost 11 hours — and saw a lot of rural China.
Since 2010, and in particular since 2013, he has returned to China 11 times and has coordinated and taken part in 13 museum training workshops. In July 2013 he was invited to a seminar in Beijing about the future of the ICOM-ITC and offered some ideas after he was back. He was immediately taken on board and the planning for the opening of ICOM-ITC started from there. The first ICOM-ITC workshop was realised within four months – in November 2013. He was just fascinated by the Chinese speed. Since then, he is in China twice a year, two weeks each time. One thing he has remembered from the various remarks made by Chinese students (mid-level management in museums): we are just mid-level managers and we cannot change anything at our museums because the directors decide everything.
He enjoyed reading my newsletters (thank you Claude!) and would like to know more about the new museum openings or plans to confirm the “one-new-museum-per-day” figures put forward by the authorities and in the press.