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Arts & Culture

San Diego Museum Of Art Lends Paintings To China

The Suzhou Museum in Jianqsu, China, designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.
The Suzhou Museum in Jianqsu, China, designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.

The San Diego Museum of Art is lending 47 paintings from its permanent collection to the Suzhou Museum in Jiangsu, China (which is about an hour outside of Shanghai).

The Suzhou is notable for its collection of Chinese art and antiquities and for its building designed by Pritzker Prize winning, Chinese American architect, I. M. Pei.

The 47 paintings were sent to China last Tuesday, where they will be part of an exhibit titled "Visions of the United States." The exhibition is part of an on-going partnership and cultural exchange program between the two museums.


Two members of the SDMA staff accompanied the paintings and they will spend three weeks in Jiangsu, setting up the exhibition and taking part in discussions with their counterparts in China.

Last September, two of the Suzhou staff members were in San Diego and SDMA staff took them up the west coast as far north as Seattle. SDMA Deputy Director Julia Marciari-Alexander said by phone, "We didn't just hang out in the vaults talking about art. We went to a Padres game. They gave presentations to our staff. It was a real cultural exchange."

Marciari-Alexander adds, "We work in cultural institutions. To understand the art we watch over, we need to understand the people and culture of the other museums we work with."

Amy Galpin, Project Curator for American Art at SDMA, selected the paintings sent to China, placing emphasis on landscapes of the American West and California. Marciari-Alexander explains: "The works chosen are meant to showcase art of the west, and of American art writ large, and in particular works that stand out as exemplary of the region."

The Suzhou financed the hard costs of sending the paintings from SDMA to their facility. At some point in the future, SDMA expects to send their curator of Asian art, Sonya Quintanilla, to China to choose works for an exhibition that will travel to San Diego (SDMA will finance the cost for bringing those art works here).


Talking by phone from Tijuana, Executive Director Roxana Velasquez said SDMA's relationship with the Suzhou Museum was orchestrated by her predecessor at SDMA, Derrick Cartwright. The Suzhou Museum was chosen because Jiangsu is a city comparable in size to San Diego and the museum itself has a similarly sized collection.

Velasquez adds, "this is the kind of trade we plan to do more of at the museum."