Junwei in the Learning Collection Room at the Royal Alberta Museum.
I lived next to a museum in Kaifeng. As much as I loved that museum, it wasn’t really popular, despite Kaifeng’s 4,100-year history. It was dark and shabby, and there was a lack of conservation. People only visited when there were school trips or seminars. But it’s a childhood landmark to me and I love it. I always thought about what I would do to make the museum more popular. I just wanted people to visit it and see the exhibits.
When I moved to Canada at 18, I was lost and depressed because of the culture shock and language barrier I felt. I spent most of my time in galleries and museums trying to understand Canada and its culture. I felt connected after every visit. Those visits made me realize that art is not just entertainment — it has the power to guide and inspire people. I can’t sing, dance or paint, but I can bring out the good in these things to other people. That’s why I chose the Arts and Cultural Management program.
During my time researching field placements, I talked to a faculty member about getting experience in museum and gallery management. She suggested I reach out to the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM). I had no experience and thought I had no chance, but I took a shot, applied — and I just completed my eight-week placement.
All the work I did was fascinating and I enjoyed every day. When my supervisor learned about my interest in creating exhibitions, she introduced me to the head of the Exhibit Design and Production department and I worked with him for two days, learning about how to design interactive displays. I worked with volunteers and spent time in the Learning Collection Room, organizing, labelling and barcoding artifacts. I actually got to touch fossils and other artifacts you don’t get to touch when you’re here as a visitor. That was my childhood dream.
After this placement, I’m going back home to work at the museum in Kaifeng for two months. China has been paying more attention to its culture and history sectors, and the city has been given more funds to support the museum. It designed a new building and it relocated there this year, just like the RAM. They hired professionals to manage it and it’s now a popular site in my city, and that’s pretty cool. That’s the power of arts and cultural management.
— Junwei, 2nd year Arts and Cultural Management student
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