Chinese cultural partnership announced

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Scotland’s External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf has announced a cultural partnership between the cities of Edinburgh and Nanjing.

The partnership will see a major exhibition, A Tale of Two Cities, staged firstly in Nanjing between November 5, 2013 and May 5, 2014 and then in Edinburgh. The date of the Edinburgh exhibition is still to be confirmed.

Speaking in Beijing, Mr Yousaf said:

“It is a great honour that Scotland has been chosen for this exhibition, which is one of the first full curatorial partnerships to be established between a Chinese museum and an institution from another country.

“Scotland and China both share a strong appreciation for cultural heritage, and this exhibition will enable people in both countries to find out more about our respective cultures and history.

“This announcement follows the Memorandum of Understanding on Culture between Scotland and China that was signed by the First Minister in 2011. Since then, the scope and level of Sino-Scottish cultural exchanges have increased and deepened, helping to enhance the mutual trust and understanding between our two nations.”

Using archival material, artworks and interactive digital content, A Tale of Two Cities is a partnership between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Nanjing Museum and Nomad Exhibitions.

The exhibition will tell the story of how the cities of Edinburgh and Nanjing (a former capital of China) have developed over the centuries, investigating the similarities and celebrating the differences. It will:

  •     explore and compare the architectural and urban development of the two great cities, both of which have areas designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  •     take visitors on a journey through the architectural and urban history of both cities and provide a fascinating insight into how they were founded and expanded.
  •     provide insights to the domestic, industrial, educational and cultural lives of each city over the centuries.
  •     launch the Nanjing Museum’s newly developed exhibition galleries, the largest purpose-made building for temporary exhibitions in China.

The exhibition features material much of which has never before been seen outside of Scotland, including:

  •     Original archival material – selected from the RCAHMS and Nanjing archives, including architectural drawings, aerial photography, maps, engravings, rare books and prints.
  •     Paintings – two iconic views of Edinburgh and Scotland from the National Gallery of Scotland.
  •     Museum objects – from Glasgow Museums and Nanjing Museum, including costume, musical instruments and drinking vessels.
  •     Interactive digital content – visitors will be able to explore both cities through layers of historical maps and aerial photographs using innovative touch table technology, which groups of people can use simultaneously to explore the history of development in each city.

Rebecca Bailey, Head of Education and Outreach at RCAHMS and Co-Curator of the exhibition said:

“A Tale of Two Cities has presented us with an incredible opportunity to share skills and knowledge in exhibition curation and interpretation with our counterparts in China. By bringing a wonderful range of archive materials together, we have been able to work creatively with Nanjing Museum to explore ideas of urban development and national identity in both Scotland and China.

“It is a privilege to be one of the first organisations in the world to collaborate in such detail with a Chinese museum, and we hope that this joint project can become a model for cultural engagement between our two countries in the future.”