大发1分彩平台网址_Exhibitions illustrate China's march of progress
Ancient artifacts help people overseas to better understand the country.
In the 1690s, Salem, Massachusetts, cemented its place in history for its notorious witch hunts. But things are different now. From August to February, the small city of about 40,000 inhabitants in the United States attracted favorable attention for its exhibition on high-ranking historical Chinese women.
The exhibition, Empresses of China's Forbidden City, on loan from Beijing, features around 100 artifacts telling the stories of the most powerful women of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
About 115,000 people visited Salem's Peabody Essex Museum to view the exhibits.
"Visitors loved this exhibition and at least one visited it seven times," said Daisy Yiyou Wang, the curator, in written answers to questions from China Daily.
The Forbidden City in Beijing - China's imperial palace from 1420 until the fall of the Qing - is now officially known as the Palace Museum, and it houses 1.86 million cultural relics.
To select just a few hundred items from the massive inventory, Wang and her team surveyed 100 Salem residents to identify the topics they found most interesting.
"We were not surprised to find that most visitors had never heard the names of the empresses," she wrote. "They knew little about Chinese history and culture, and had some misconceptions about China. But they had a high level of curiosity about the Chinese empresses and the Forbidden City."
The team focused on making the empresses accessible to visitors through universal experiences, such as love, death, birthday celebrations and biographical details, while also providing a wealth of basic information about Chinese history and values.
"We countered the stereotypical view about Chinese women in history as cloistered and footbound by displaying footwear for women with normal feet, as the Qing empresses did not practice footbinding," Wang said.
"Not all good research or the best objects lead to the best exhibitions, but all the best exhibitions start with innovative, deep research and the most compelling objects."
One visitor to the exhibition in Salem wrote in the comments book: "Extraordinarily beautiful. So wonderful to see a glimpse into an area of history so often ignored in the West."
Under the auspices of the Peabody Essex Museum, the exhibition is continuing its tour of the US. At the end of the month, it will open at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington.
"It will be an exciting platform for us to celebrate the role of cultural and people-to-people exchanges as we mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the US-China diplomatic relationship," Wang said.
Wang Yamin, chief exhibition curator of the Palace Museum and a member of the National Committee of the 13th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said: "China has a long history, which may still be mysterious in the eyes of many foreigners. However, cultural relics and artworks can explain our civilization without any language barriers.
"As a big museum housing so many treasures, it's a duty for our institution not only to serve domestic visitors, but also to promote the best parts of traditional Chinese culture worldwide."