Good morning. It is great to be here with you for the opening of the All India Museum Summit. Thank you President Ramaswamy and Director General Mehta for inviting me to speak today, and for all of the work that you and your colleagues are doing to enhance the cultural treasures of our two countries. Thanks as well to Susan Bean of the American Institute of Indian Studies for the vital role you have played in bringing this Summit to fruition. And thanks to Conrad Turner and our team at the U.S. Embassy for their excellent work in supporting this Summit.
I also want to note that Vishakha Desai of Columbia University and a former President of the Asia Society, who was scheduled to speak today, is unable to be here because she was recently involved in an accident that prevents her from traveling. We wish her the very best and send our hope for a speedy recovery.
Let me say what a pleasure it is to share the floor with Secretary Goel, whose presence here signifies the Government of India’s commitment to supporting and advancing India’s museums.
The U.S.-India relationship has undergone a significant transformation over the last two decades, and our ties today are as strong as they have ever been. We cooperate on an extensive range of issues, including defense, nuclear non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, trade, investment, energy, the environment, health, education, science and technology, agriculture, space, the oceans, and so much more. As this Summit makes clear, cultural affairs is another important area where our experts are collaborating.
I grew up in New York and lived for many years in Washington, D.C. So I have had the opportunity to visit some of the very best museums in the world. I am a strong believer in the value of these institutions and what they have to offer. Those of you here today are more than curators and managers; you are custodians of the history and culture of our countries. The United States Embassy is proud to play its part in assisting museums to continue to serve as one of the public’s premier educational resources.
The 21st century has brought much change to your field, and also more opportunities. Thanks to advances in technology, museums can reach more people than ever before. Over the next three days, you will hear about best practices and techniques for integrating the latest technology into your exhibits, as well as optimizing museum management, better engaging the public, drawing in new audiences, and enhancing the conservation of the priceless items in your care.
I truly believe that the foundation of the U.S.-India partnership is the strong set of ties between our people. When folks such as yourselves cooperate to exchange ideas and solve common problems, the results can be quite impressive. This is as true in cultural affairs as it is in any other aspect of our bilateral relationship.
I hope you will see this Summit as more than a one-time event. In this room are some of the finest museum experts, curators, and directors in India. We are joined by representatives of some of the top museums and educational institutions in the United States. I hope that you will continue to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise after this event concludes, and build relationships that last for the rest of your careers.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this important Summit. I want to express again my appreciation to all of the individuals who have worked so hard to put this event together.
I look forward to seeing the results of your discussions and reading the recommendations that you draft for the Ministry of Culture. Secretary Goel, as your Ministry works to accomplish its goals, please know that you have a friend in the U.S. Embassy, and that we stand ready to assist you in any way we can.
Thanks again, and good luck over the next few days.