United States and China: a lens of comparison within the museum world

During her summer internship in China and because of her experience in graduate school in the United States, Meng was able to make several comparisons between the methodology of museum practices and functions between the two countries.

In China, the museums are run by the government and therefore allotted government funds. This is done under the control of the parties in power. There are museums for every large city and at least two or three central museums for every province. The museums rank on a level scale in which the first level is the most prestigious and officials believe that creating more museums are among their top duties in preserving Chinese heritage and culture. Getting into the museum world has much to do with who you know and what you know, somewhat like networking in the United States, however these positions are generally permanent upon initial employment. Finally, because these museums are government run, they are primarily free and widely accepted throughout the nation in order to promote national pride and identity.

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The museums in the United States, however, do not follow one specific method of operations or administration. Instead, the United States is littered with public and private institutions, large and small ones, and those on some of the oddest topics out there. Many of the American museums require an entrance fee. Public museums are not always run by the federal government as they can be under the control of city or state rule, however, they do receive funding more often than those that are under the private sector. Private museums can always receive funding through grants and stipends nonetheless. Museums in the United States are heavily ranked through their reputations and pieces they have acquired.

Although the differences between museums in China and the United States through finances and administration are clear, Meng described the attempts to continue public programming and outreach events as being similar. The intent of museums in both countries is to share their knowledge with the public through institutions that can provide details about people, places, or things. Docents or interpreters are a huge part of this as well as student visits ranging from elementary to high school and even college level classes.

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