FRANCE: HEC Paris ties knot with Asian arts museum

Two prestigious French institutions have formed an unusual partnership to promote understanding of Asia. Leading business school HEC Paris and the Guimet Museum of Asian Arts have signed a three-year agreement, under which museum experts will teach courses centred on the museum's collections.

HEC (Hautes Études Commerciales) Paris is France's leading school of management, founded in 1881. In May this year, the Financial Time ranked its executive education programme top in Europe and second worldwide; and in September the Economist classified its MBA ninth in the world.

It is one of 12 élite engineering and business schools comprising ParisTech, the new Paris Institute of Technology.

The Musée National Guimet des Arts Asiatiques was founded by industrialist Emile Guimet, who opened a museum in 1879 in his home town of Lyon, following his travels throughout the Far East where he had accumulated extensive collections of oriental art. Ten years later these were moved to Paris where the museum was inaugurated in 1889.

At the signing ceremony at the museum earlier this month Bernard Ramanantsoa, director-general of HEC Paris, said: "We have always known that understanding art leads to a better grasp of the evolution of societies in their most subtle aspects."

The collaboration with the Guimet would provide "new material for reflection by students, teachers and researchers", Ramanantsoa said.

Jacques Giès, President of the Guimet, said the objective was to "open up the 'Asian question' in the minds of tomorrow's foremost economic actors, and open the depths of time to contemporary times, with the subtleties of established historic facts".

It was not for the museum to teach history, but "to arouse thoughts beginning with a reasoned knowledge of this Asia, powerful and subtle and, today, probably central", Giès said.

The educational aspect of the partnership will entail courses, seminars and working groups organised by its experts and based on the museum's collections. HEC said it would allow its students "to discover the arts and traditions of the Asian and oriental world, with a multicultural and managerial approach".