Join us for the roundtable discussion ‘Museums and Cultural Districts in Asia and Australia’ at the Art Gallery of NSW with panelists Cole Roskam, Duanfang Lu, Olivier Krischer and Anna Lawrenson. The University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre, The Power Institute and VisAsia, with support from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, are proud to present the discussion as part of the Sydney Asian Art Series.



If museums remain ‘narrative machinery’ (Bennet, 1995), what does it mean to be welcoming a string of new arts institutions in Sydney, Hong Kong, Shenzhen or Shanghai, today? Is it a question of what they say, or what they do? Gathering expertise in the history, design, and function of museums, particularly in China and Australia, this panel considers the rise of such institutions amid architectural and urban trends in the 1970s and 1980s in Asia and Australia, the impact of blockbuster exhibitions, the rise of the ‘starchitect’, and the rapid development of cultural institutions and museums throughout the region today. What is the role of the museum, as monument and vessel, alongside the rise of pop-up, temporary events such as biennales, and what does the proliferation of cultural districts today mean for tomorrow’s cities?



Dr Cole Roskam is associate professor of architectural history and theory in the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. His research and teaching include topics in 20th century and contemporary architectural and urban history as well as theory. He is particularly interested in understanding architecture’s role in mediating moments of transnational interaction and exchange between China and other parts of the world.

Dr Duanfang Lu is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Her books include Third World Modernism: Architecture, Development and Identity (2010) and Remaking Chinese Urban Form: Modernity, Scarcity and Space 1949-2005 (2006)

Dr Olivier Krischer is acting director of the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney. He is interested in the social role of art in modern and contemporary China and Japan, with his most recent publication being (as editor) Zhang Peili: from Painting to Video (ANU Press, 2019), based on an exhibition he co-curated in 2016. He convenes the Sydney Asian Art Series.

Dr Anna Lawrenson is a lecturer in Museum Studies at the University of Sydney. She is  interested in how the funding, history and administration of public museums and galleries influences their public offer in terms of brand, exhibitions and programs. Her most recent book is (with Chiara O’Reilly) The Rise of the Must-See Exhibition: Blockbusters in Australian Museums and Galleries (Routledge, 2019).



2-3:30pm, Saturday 21 September

Domain Theatre

Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery Road NSW 2000


Registrations are now available via the AGNSW website. For enquiries, please contact


Presented by

This series of talks and events is co-presented by the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre, The Power Institute, and VisAsia, with support from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sydney Ideas. Originating in and celebrating the very latest and best scholarship in Asian art from around the world, this initiative complements the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ innovative exhibition program in Asian art, and the University of Sydney’s region-leading programs in the arts and cultures of Asia.


Image: Cole Roskam, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in August, 2016