This paper explores the curatorial agencies of museum actors in China’s national museum context. Based on a case study of the second national art museum, He Xiangning Art Museum, it demonstrates how museum curators and academic stakeholders have played an increasing role in negotiating meaning at the interface of expertise and official discourse. I argue that they rationalise the national art narrative and adopt a dialogic approach in diplomatising contemporary art and promoting mutual cultural exchange; their curatorial work diverges from the state’s aesthetic patriotism and cultural diplomatic claim for the Greater China. The study reflects the museum’s ideological dilemma and the contested nature of the nation driven by curatorial activity that has emerged in China since the early 2000s. It offers a new perspective to the state-centered methodology of studying China’s museums by recognising the role of individual agents, and highlights the competitive agendas raised by the actors.
- Chinese museum studies
- cultural politics
- curatorial approaches and strategies
- institutional management
- national art museum