The first youth congress “Culture! My Future” that was held during the 450th anniversary of the Dresden State Art Collections in April 2010. On this occasion, 30 young people from Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Spain, France, China and Germany met, to formulate their own personal expectations of culture and museums. The claim “Shorten Distances” summarizes the ten main theses formulated by the group in an agenda, which was presented at the end of the congress to the Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich.

Together with CAFA, the SKD now want to continue and strengthen this international dialogue in a joint effort. As “The Art of the Enlightenment” is the first international exhibition shown at the newly renovated National Museum of China, Beijing. The Dresden State Art Collections (SKD) and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) would like to seize this opportunity and invite young people from China, Germany and other countries to talk about the role of the arts and museums in a globalized world full of intercultural references. From August 26th to September 1st 2011 about 30 young people between 16 and 20 will meet in Beijing for discussions and workshops. At the end of the congress the results will be presented to the public.

At the centre of the exhibition stands the historical period of the Enlightenment, its influence on the fine arts and its unprecedented effects on the history of the artistic revolution of the 18th century and the present. Starting from this historical perspective, the international youth congress “Enlighten my future!” aims to expand the focus and direct the view to the future relationships between cultural institutions and society. The congress will provide a context within which the values of museums both implicit and explicit can be explored. As a further step, new ideas for international museum work will be developed and presented.

Which basic questions documented in the exhibition are still relevant today and how must they be defined for the future? What role do different cultural backgrounds play in this context? Which role should the museum of the future claim to actively take part in the shaping of a society? These are some of the questions that will be mooted in group discussions, working groups and expert talks.

Throughout the congress, a group of international students will get the opportunity to experience the existing differences and parallels between the different cultures of the world. The aim of the congress can therefore be defined as both creating an unforgettable intercultural experience and at the same time deriving serious ideas and recommendations from this creative process.

The congress is part of the 2011 EU-China Year of Youth

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