China in perspective

Chinese culture and history through European heritage collections

a double exposure black and white picture of the same entrance of a Chinese palace.

Marco Polo famously wrote the following in his Travels of Marco Polo - a book about his travels through Asia along the Silk Road -

I did not write half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.

It's impossible to capture the breadth and depth of Chinese history and culture in a single exhibition, or maybe even at all. It is however worth it to try to show how others have depicted and captured China in their own imaginations, how they've taken their impressions of China with them to Europe to tell stories about the Far East. The best way to get to know someone is to walk a mile in their shoes, but how can we try and get to know an entire culture - thousands of years of ideas, practices and people?

In this exhibition, we set out for a journey of discovery through China exploring works of art, artefacts and photographs preserved in European heritage collections. In 7 chapters we revisit ancient traditions, adventurous expeditions and gems of artistry. You’ll not only get to see the land of the Great Wall, of proud pagodas and inspiring gardens, sloping rice fields and translucent porcelain in all its uniqueness and individuality, but gain a broader panorama as well: a bird’s eye view of the space of exchange where East and West have been meeting for centuries.