著名的英国艺术评论家拉斯金认为，“艺术教育和道德教育是一致的，一个有艺术修养的人，也是一个有道德修养的人，艺术的发展程度是该民族道德水准的反映。”（参见《拉斯金读书随笔》，拉斯金（著），王青松等（译），郑克鲁主编，上海三联书店，1999年版，第2页。）20世纪中国现代教育的奠基人蔡元培同样高度重视美育对于提高国民素质的重要作用，而在他看来，美术馆的设立对于实现美育是除在学校开设有关美育的各种课程以外有效的途径：“普及社会的，有公开的美术馆或博物馆，中间陈列品，或由私人捐赠，或用公款购置，都是非常珍贵的。”（参见《美育实施的方法》《文化运动不要忘记了美育》，载《 蔡元培全集(第3 卷)》，高平叔编，中华书局，1984年版）虽然当前随着经济的快速发展，全国美术馆发展方兴未艾，但是距离将参观美术馆变成普通群众日常文化生活的一部分的状态，还相去甚远。学院美术馆身处俗话所称的“象牙塔”，多年来习惯服务于校内师生，开放性和主动进行公共教育的姿态，与普通美术馆相比，相去甚远。比如受制于学院整体管理（如空调的统一开放），一些学院美术馆在寒暑假内是闭馆的，不能满足人民群众日益增长的文化需求。因此，如何结合学院的长处，充分发挥学院的专业优势，同时站在普通观众渴望走近艺术的视角，策划、组织具有一定学术水准、图文和实物作品相结合的美术展览，是学院美术馆可以扬长避短的所在，也是走出象牙塔、尽可能发挥美术馆的公共教育功能的有效途径，值得拓展。
A Brief Analysis of the Integration of Art University Museum’s Academic Research and Public Education
———Take Museum of Contemporary Art of CAA and China Academy of Art as an Example
Zhang Suqi Museum of Contemporary Art of China Academy of Art
At the end of 2010, the “National Art Museum Development Support Project List of Outstanding Achievements” evaluated by Committee of Art Museums In China was released. It included 14 outstanding public promotion projects and 6 outstanding academic research achievement project. “CAA 60th Anniversary of Sketch Academic Research and Exhibition” and “Art Exhibition of Lin Fengmian and his Students” held by MCACAA ranked first and second separately.
As a top art academy in China, it is no doubt that CAA and MCACAA have the most special exhibition resources. The two projects that won the prize fully reflect this characteristic. “CAA 60th Anniversary of Sketch Academic Research and Exhibition” displayed thousands of sketches created by faculties and students in CAA in the past. It concentrates CAA’s 60-year sketch teaching history and showed the unique teaching methods, mentoring relationship, evolving logic and gradual achievements in art universities. “Art Exhibition of Lin Fengmian and his Students” includes over 150 art works created by Lin Fengmian, the founder of China’s art universities, and his students Wu Guanzhong, Zhu Dequn, Zhao Wuji, Su Tianci and Xi Dejin. These artists influenced China and the world as a whole in the 20th century. However, they are all the aluminus or ancestors of CAA and their art pursuits reflect CAA’s art spirit. Therefore, both of the two exhibitions cannot be copied or replaced. They are the perfect epitome of fine arts in academies.
In fact, the most important features of China’s art in the 20th century are the emergence and development of new art educational pattern -- art universities -- and the debate between new and traditional educational patterns. After a century’s development, art universities have become the hotbed of China’s contemporary art with most of professional artists in them and have absolutely become the leading power no matter from talents training perspective, works creation perspective or conception guidance perspective. Studying China’s art history in the 20th century may help us discover the future of art in the 21st century. Therefore, the development and evolution of art universities in this period do deserve our attention. Museums of art universities provide us enough collections for references in the study and exhibitions held by them are perfect platforms to display our achievements. Both “CAA 60th Anniversary of Sketch Academic Research and Exhibition” and “Art Exhibition of Lin Fengmian and his Students” are so.
We cannot deny that having a strong academic background to rely on is the merit of art university museums and this is what other social art museums don’t possess. However, a lot of times, having a too strong academic background or depending too much on art universities is also the weakness of art university museums. A scholar in CAA once said that for a long time, the mission of art university museums is to exhibit art works by their faculties and students or to hold some exhibitions only if a teacher feels it is the time to hold. Although the position of “assisting teaching” is pretty good, art university museums often have so many exhibitions for teachers and students to deal with, like graduation exhibitions in those art universities, that they are just like “halls to display works”. Preserving collections, public education and many other functions of museums cannot be embodied, which limits art university museums on their further developments.
In the 11th conference held by International Council of Museums in Copenhagen in June, 1974, functions of museums was stipulated as follows: “It regards the collection, preservation and research of witnesses of human beings and their living environment as basic responsibility and displays these witnesses to the public for learning, education and appreciation.” (Wang Hongjun: “The Basis of Chinese Museology”, p26) Taking design and art as working objects, art museums have the following responsibility: “Exhibition, collection, research, public education and public service” (Referring to “National Key Art Museum Evaluation Criteria”(Provisional) by the Ministry of Culture, January, 2009), which is a clear-cut one. Because of different kinds of limitations on art museums, there is still a big room to improve in terms of collection, research, public education and public service. In consideration of the uniqueness of resources, art university museums may explore something new and fresh to combine academic research and public education. Especially, it must be a great success if they integrate public education into academic exhibitions consciously.
Firstly, from the perspective of host of exhibition and psychology of visitors. If it is a large-scale academic exhibition arranged within the museum, it is completed by all the faculties and students in the academy because the museum may not have a perfect system itself and it requires cooperation from relating departments in terms of external communication, external publicity, security and logistics. With the efforts of the entire academy, the exhibition will receive extensive financial and man-powered resources so the meaning of it will be broadened. The academy, with the expectation to enlarge its social influence, wants to gain wide attentions from art circles, educational circles or from the general public. That is the so-called “Experts agree and public clap”. For insiders (like faculties and students in art universities), it is no use to promote or encourage them because they already have some basic knowledge and they can clearly realize the importance and focus of such exhibitions. What’s more, exhibitions have also already become a part of their lives. In line with the detailed statistics in “Visitors in American Art Museum”, a book published in 1991 by National Endowment for the Arts (America), scholar Wu Hong draws a paradox: “One the one hand, all large contemporary art museums highlight their educational functions and on the other hand, people “educated” by these museums have already received a good education before”, “most of them have learned the history of art before”. (“History of Art and Art Museums”, published on “National Art Museum of China Journal”, No.1, 2007) Therefore, in China, the main promotion target is those ordinary citizens with no knowledge of history of art. The process of promotion can also be seen as the process of public education.
Secondly, from the perspective of the psychology of visitors. Generally speaking, an art university is a local old university with special subjects so it often makes people a sense of alienation and mystery. Exhibitions held by art university museums offer an effective way for people to dispel such kind of feelings. However, if the exhibition itself does not have any eye-catching selling points and only depends on people who visit it spontaneously, the number of visitors must be limited. Even if the condition may be a little better in a master’s individual exhibition or a graduation exhibition for excellent students, when it comes to exhibitions for some professors not very famous, except on the opening ceremonies, it is even possible to catch sparrows on the doorstep. When an academy wants to host a large academic exhibition, it often uses extensive resources to promote it. Thus, there may be some stunts in media’s reports and the exaggeration of the value of collections is the most common way. But this may elicit a problem: Visitors will be attracted by these stunts to pay a visit but media cannot guide their acceptability of the exhibition contents and their understanding of the exhibition meanings. This is the time for art museums to bring into play their public educational functions from the view of visitors and guide visitors to understand and be really interested in the exhibition. Visitors’ desire to understand the exhibition can be concluded from the short supply of guiding pamphlets. Document panels for some outstanding exhibitions often attract a great number of visitors to read and sometimes visitors may complain if the documents are not printed and handed out. In some art museums that provide audio guiding service, the guiding devices are often welcomed. In “Art Exhibition of Lin Fengmian and his Students” , MCACAA provides several excerpts from articles written by masters to comment on Lin Fengmian’s works for 50 art works of Lin Fengmian, which helps visitors have better appreciations during visiting. One of the visitors told a staff in MCACAA that he really appreciated those excerpts because they led him from an entire outsider into an insider and helped him learn the secrets behind those works, which really enlightens him.
Thirdly, from the perspective of the main method that contemporary art university museums use to host high-level academic exhibitions. This kind of main method happens to cater to visitors’ demand to be guided. In the 21st century, through media, people can receive information and images accurately and swiftly. Especially, on the internet, we may browse and appreciate art works at all times and in all over the world, which makes exhibitions in reality must be high-level and high-quality to attract more visitors than virtual world. Being blessed with advantages in academic background and professionals, art university museums have the obligatory to hold such exhibitions. Now that they are academic exhibitions, they cannot simply pile up works. The exhibitions should be academic and a process to comb and discuss questions. This process can be fulfilled not only by art works themselves but by full and accurate documents. Documents panels with images and texts and relating videos have become indispensable parts in academic exhibitions held by art university museums. For one thing, these panels show visitors the meaning and value of the exhibition. For another, they are guidance and references for visitors when they are appreciating real works, which is a sort of manifestation of the win-win combination of academic study and public education. “CAA 60th Anniversary of Sketch Academic Research and Exhibition” hosted by MCACAA is also a typical case because it is a strong academic one but attracts a lot of common visitors.
Famous British art critic Ruskin holds the view that “Art education is always consistent with moral education. If one is artistically accomplished, he is also morally accomplished. The development of art reflects on the national moral standard.” (Refer to Ruskin: “Ruskin’s Reading Essays”, translated by Wang Qingsong, edited by Zheng Kelu, Shanghai Joint Publishing Company, Ltd., 1999, p2) Cai Yuanpei, the founder of China’s modern education in the 20th century, also thinks highly of the important function of art education to improve national quality. In his view, the set of art museums is an effective way for art universities to realize art education besides offering art courses: “Collections in public art galleries or museums, either donated by individuals or purchased with public money, are priceless.” (Refer to “Ways to Implement Art Education” “Do Not Forget Art Education in Cultural Movements”, published on “The Complete Works of Cai Yuanpei (Volume Three)”, edited by Gao Pingshu, Zhong Hua Book Company, 1984) Although with the pace of economy, art museums in China art in the ascendant, it is still far away from the situation in which visiting art museums has become a part of people’s daily cultural life. Art university museums are in the so-called “ivory towers” so they are accustomed to serving students and teachers and their openness and initiative of public education cannot be paralleled with other common art museums. For instance, they may be restricted by the overall management of the university (unified opening of air conditioners) and have to be closed during winter and summer holidays, which cannot meet people’s ever-growing cultural demands. Therefore, the way for art university museums to adopt good points and avoid shortcomings is to consider how to integrate art universities’ advantages, how to give enough weight to professional advantages and, at the same time, how to plan and organize a strong academic exhibition combining images and documents with material works from the perspective of common citizens who desire to learn about art. This is also an effective approach for them to walk out of ivory towers and make use of public educational functions as much as possible. All of these deserve our further explorations.