17 years ago, the Tibet Museum had no professional commentator, and Chodron was an ordinary staff member who served as commentator in the Tibetan masks and King Gesar. That was the first time the new museum was opened to the public, and since then, Chodron has grown up with the Tibet Museum, eventually becoming its curator.
Chodron is a lucky child of New Tibet. She grew up in Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. There she had a carefree childhood and adolescence.
After graduating from high school in 1988, Chodron applied the cultural relic and museum major in the History Department at Sichuan University because her grades in history had always been her best. Her class adviser at the time was the famous archaeologist and cultural relics and museum expert Mr. Huo Wei. The group of Tibetan students in the major at Sichuan University have since become the core of the field of Tibetan cultural relics.
After graduating from Sichuan University, Chodron was assigned to Shigatse Prefecture Cultural Relics Bureau. She stayed there for just one year before transferring to the then-preparatory office for the Tibet Museum. It was here she met another mentor in her career, Trinley Chodrak, a Tibetan historian, cultural relic expert, writer, and translator.
At that time, Tibet was probably the only province in China that did not have a provincial museum. It can be said that as the director of the preparatory office and head of the establishing museum, Trinley Chodrak is the one who shouldered a kind of unprecedented responsibility. Although 99 million yuan (14.7 million US dollars), a huge sum of money at the time, was appropriated towards the project, everything from planning and building, collecting cultural relics, allocating and training personnel, to designing and setting up exhibits had to be done from scratch.
This was unimaginable for Trinley Chodrak, who was originally more engaged in writing work. Even more difficult was delivering this new concept of a "museum" to the Tibetan society. For Tibet, this was definitely a new term.
The mission for Trinley Chodrak and his subordinates was not just to build a museum but also to implant the concept of a modern museum into contemporary Tibetan society.
Chodron said that they followed teachers everyday, learning about everything, each part of the construction, and each artifact in the museum.
Trinley Choedrak is a strict but also charitable man. Following him, Chodron experienced almost every part of the process in preparing the Tibet Museum, all the difficulties and achievements, and all the bitterness and joy.
Chodron is a museum staff member with both high intellectual and emotional IQs. She is not only knowledgeable about cultural relics but is also good at organization and coordination. When holding exhibitions in Europe and the U.S., she records the experiences and practices of them. When she went to museums in other provinces and cities in China, she made mentors and friends everywhere. She tries new exhibition styles again and again, and brings along group after group of core professionals.
The Tibet Museum that opened in 1999 was far from being able to adapt to today's needs, from the size of the building to its functional facilities. After repeated debates, the Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government decided to carry out renovations and expansions to the original site of the museum.
As a result, the museum would be closed for five years from December 2016.
With an investment of 660 million yuan (98 million US dollars), the new museum will cover an area of 54,000 square meters, five times larger than the old one. The person leading the grand renovation and expansion project is Chodron, who was just a timid commentator 17 years ago.
The museums of today are experiencing many aspects of innovation in their basic concepts and operating methods. In fact, the era of setting up exhibitions and opening doors to visitors according to the wishes of the museum itself has passed.
Chodron said that in the future, the goal of Tibet Museum would be based on "characteristic Tibetan collection, research, exhibitions, education, science and preservation, and cultural creation" concepts to build it into a "living room of the city" on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
She said that more emphasis should be placed on local residents, allowing them to come to the museum actively and repeatedly as often as they wish, and that it should welcome a wide range of visitors, including children. Such exhibitions would not be once-only exhibitions, nor would the audience only come once. For foreign tourists, it would not be simply looking at an exhibition, but seeing the rich culture and way of life of the Tibetan people.