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UM’s ‘The Galleries’ exhibition on the history of China, East-West interactions, Southeast Asia, Maritime History opens
The Galleries: Sources, Voices and Histories, a permanent exhibition in the Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Macau (UM), is an initiative encouraged by the Subcommittee on Education and Research, UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The exhibition was designed and coordinated by Beatriz Puente-Ballesteros, assistant professor of the Department of History and corresponding member of the UNESCO Subcommittee on Education and Research.
The galleries introduce students to UM’s history research, presenting the histories of China during different time periods, with a special focus on East-West interactions, particularly those in the areas of Macau studies, the maritime history in the Age of Sail, the history of science, technology, medicine, maps and arts, and the histories of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The galleries also display over 300 reproductions of images from archives and libraries all over the world, with information about the historical sources, including manuscripts of letters, archival documents, printed records, maps, drawings, illustrations, portraits, photographs, and posters.
The spatial arrangement of the galleries was inspired by the Renaissance concept of Kunstkammern, which literally means ‘art rooms’, but is more commonly known as ‘cabinets of curiosities’ or ‘wonder-rooms’. Its visual architecture, reminiscent of a museum, invites visitors to stroll freely and offers them an interactive experience that sometimes makes them lose awareness of time and space.
The various themes covered in the galleries are arranged in chronological order: ‘In the Origins of Chinese Historiography’ and ‘Searching for the Northern Wei Dynasty’ by Li Ping, ‘Buddhist Art and Popular Culture’ by Zhu Tianshu, ‘East-West Interactions in a Maritime Stage’ and ‘The Jesuit Mission in the Imperial Court’ by António Vasconcelos de Saldanha, ‘Western Medicine for the Naked Emperor’ by Beatriz Puente-Ballesteros, ‘Mapping the Qing Imperial Space’ by Mario Cams, ‘Macau: A Crossroad between East and West’ by Tang Kaijian, ‘Teahouses’ and ‘the Gown Brothers Secret Society’ by Wang Di, ‘The Collapse of the Heavenly Dynasty’ and ‘the Construction of Modern China’ by Mao Haijian, and ‘War Strategy and US Strategy for Asia’ by George C Wei. By presenting historical knowledge in an esthetically appealing manner, these individual exhibits aim to demonstrate that civilisations and cultures are not discrete and unalterable units, but have been subjected time and again to external influences and impacts. Elucidating these developments and encounters will hopefully deepen one’s understanding of what defines modernity in China and in other regions of the world.
The galleries also involve the contributions of UM students. ‘The History Students’ Space’ is designed in such a way as to inspire the students and to motivate them to share their own projects with the university community.
The Subcommittee on Education and Research is part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. Its initiatives are aimed at promoting the use of firsthand material (voices of history) for teaching and research purposes in academic institutions. By this permanent exhibition, the subcommittee has encouraged and supported a proposal of its Corresponding Member Beatriz Puente-Ballesteros who is based at UM.
Source: Communications Office
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