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Canberra to host blockbuster Chinese exhibition in 2016

By Canfan - 14 April 2015 0

Chief Minister Andrew Barr meeting with National Library of China Director, Dr HAN Yongjin

Canberra will play host to a significant Chinese exhibition in early 2016, with the National Library of Australia partnering with China’s largest library.

Qing: Life in China, 1644 – 1911 will include architectural drawings for the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, as well as ancient manuscripts, maps and books.

In a media release, Chief Minister Andrew Barr (pictured above with National Library of China Director Dr Han Yongjin) said:

As part of a trade mission to Beijing, I had the great pleasure to visit the National Library of China and following that meeting I can announce the National Library of Australia (NLA) will present Chinese treasures in Qing: Life in China, 1644 – 1911, examining nearly 300 years of Chinese life, culture and tradition that provided the foundations of modern China.

The exhibition, a one-off event exclusive to Canberra, will run in the first half of 2016, with the NLA receiving promotional support from the ACT Government. The exhibition’s value to Canberra’s broader tourism industry will also no doubt be immense, as a catalyst to attract interstate and international visitors, making a significant contribution to the ACT economy.

The exhibition takes pieces from the fifth-largest library collection in the world, and includes architectural drawings produced for the Imperial Court for iconic locations such as the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, ancient manuscripts, and rare books and illustrated maps, most of which will be new to Australian audiences.

Qing: Life in China, 1644 – 1911 will play an important role in expanding Canberra’s cultural ties with China, and specifically with Beijing, which has been Canberra’s sister city for 15 years.

The exhibition follows the highly successful partnerships between the ACT Government and the NLA that brought the Mapping our World and Handwritten exhibitions to Canberra. Fifty percent of visitors to each of these exhibitions were from interstate, and from a combined ACT Government investment of $400,000 towards these blockbuster exhibitions, they contributed $38.1 million in economic return to the Territory,” Mr Barr said.

NLA Director-General Anne-Marie Schwirtlich joined me in Beijing today to finalise discussions with our Chinese partners. Ms Schwirtlich said:

“The exhibition provides an insight into the diversity of life in China during the last imperial dynasty. From the Dowager Empress to the humble market seller, the exhibition examines nearly 300 year of Chinese life, culture and tradition, creating a way for all Australians to better understand this extraordinary culture.

“This is the first time the National Library of Australia and the National Library of China have collaborated on an exhibition of such breadth and depth. Visitors will see works on Chinese opera, art, calligraphy, religion, astronomy, government, Anglo-Chinese relations, travel and popular fiction.

“More significantly, visitors will experience China as it entered the modern age, with all the diversity of lived experience and cultural attainment brought vividly to life.

“We are indebted to the National Library of China. Through its generosity, the Australian public will, for the first time, be able to view some of the treasures of Chinese cultural and literary heritage.”

This is a fantastic start to the trade mission and will be followed by a meeting later today with the Mayor of the Beijing Municipal Government Mr Wang Anshun and Australia’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Ms Frances Adamson.

Below are some of the artworks that will be displayed at next year’s exhibition:

Image 1: Map of West Lake (detail)  c. 1799; gold, oil paint on goat skin; 256cm x 132 cm  West Lake, in the modern city of Hangzhou

Map of West Lake (detail)
c. 1799; gold, oil paint on goat skin; 256cm x 132 cm
West Lake, in the modern city of Hangzhou.

Map of the Southern Marchmount (detail)  Late nineteenth century; ink and colours on paper; 32cm x 211cm  Mt Heng, in modern Hunan province

Map of the Southern Marchmount (detail)
Late nineteenth century; ink and colours on paper; 32cm x 211cm
Mt Heng, in modern Hunan province.

Map of Mount Wutai (detail)  Guangxu period (1875–1908); ink and colours on paper; 84cm x 168 cm  Details the temples and other religious structures in the Buddhist centre of Mt Wutai in Shanxi province

Map of Mount Wutai (detail)
Guangxu period (1875–1908); ink and colours on paper; 84cm x 168 cm
Details the temples and other religious structures in the Buddhist centre of Mt Wutai in Shanxi province.

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