On August 13-18, 2006 on the invitation of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan (AAU), Ms. Anne Cahen-Delhaye, the Director General of the Royal Museum of Arts and History of Belgium, made an introductory visit to our country together with her colleagues from the Museum — Professor Bruno Overlaet, Head of Department for Archaeology of the Ancient Near East & Central Asia, and Ms. Karin Theunis, the Department staff member.

The visit of Belgian guests was initiated by the Uzbek Embassy in Belgium with the purpose of introducing them to the rich historical and cultural heritage of Uzbekistan and discussing issues related to the organization of a large-scale exhibition dedicated to the work of Uzbek masters in the Royal Museum of Arts and History of Belgium.

While in Tashkent, the guests visited the State Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts of the Republic of Uzbekistan, were present at a gala opening ceremony of the «Youth of Uzbekistan — 2006» («Navkiron Uzbekiston — 2006») festival, which was attended by representatives of a diplomatic corps, international organizations and creative community from the capital city and all regions of the country.

In her presentation Anne Cahen-Delhaye noted: «Supporting young artists is a good and important initiative. We are impressed by the scale and uniqueness of this activity, which has a great import for further development of the young generation of designers, fashion designers, artists and traditional master-craftsmen from the remotest regions of your country… Here we can see works of art that represent great diversity of genres and trends of traditional, classical and modern art. It should be highlighted that Belgium or other European countries do not have such contests; there are galleries where exhibitions can be displayed, but this is very expensive, and beginner artists cannot always afford it… But in Uzbekistan, as I noticed, all costs are borne by the state and the organizers. This is truly an invaluable aid for the young generation of talents in the domain of fine arts, which means free access to fame for the artists, because exhibitions are visited by a large number of foreigners».

Anne Cahen-Delhaye attended a meeting of the Academic Council of the Art History Institute of the AAU, where she was awarded a Diploma and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the Art History Institute.

Belgian guests were strongly impressed by magnificent monuments of medieval architecture of Samarqand. Delegation members met with prominent artists, masters of applied arts and sculpture. «Uzbekistan is a very vivid and colourful country, and a journey to Samarqand can be compared to visiting a fairy city from One Thousand and One Night tales», said Ms. Anne Cahen-Delhaye.

The friendly visit of Belgian guest ended with their participation in the AAU Board Meeting, where the results of the visit were summarized and a number of documents signed, including a Letter of Intent on the cooperation between the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan and the Royal Museum of Arts and History of Belgium in organizing an exhibition titled » Samarqand at the Crossroads of the Great Silk Road: Treasures of Uzbekistan Museums (from Bronze Age to Temurids)» in Brussels. The document has become a starting point in preparing materials for the signature of appropriate agreements to organize a series of activities under the programme of cooperation among creative community, scholars, traditional master-craftsmen and artists in the two countries.

After the introduction to the exhibits of museums and displays, Belgian guests noted that Uzbekistan had rich historical and cultural heritage and all preconditions for successful preparation and organization of a large-scale exhibition in Belgium, which would, beyond doubt, attract public attention in Belgium and other countries.
Anne Cahen-Delhaye shared her impression from our country:
«This is my first time in Uzbekistan. I had an opportunity to see with my own eyes your beautiful country and meet with its hospitable people. These few days of our stay here have left one of the most vivid and unforgettable impressions in my life. There were many interesting meetings, encounters and tours. For instance, after attending the opening of the «Navkiron Uzbekiston — 2006″ festival and seeing the works exhibited there, I realized that your art can be presented on an equal basis in Europe and worldwide. And you can take pride not only in your history and rich cultural heritage, but also in the recent achievements in the domain of contemporary art. You are growing a worthy generation of young masters of brush and chisel.»

I wholeheartedly congratulate people of Uzbekistan with the 15th anniversary of independence. I would like everyone to know that most of the European scholars, cultural workers and artists highly value your attainments gained over the period of independent development. Our journey has left unforgettable memories also because it was organized by the leadership and staff of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan at the highest professional level. We intend to continue our productive cooperation and develop it further.

Sergei Savchuk-Kurbanov