Kitchener, ON – In preparation for what will be the largest exhibition ever mounted by THEMUSEUM, CEO David Marskell and Programs & Exhibitions Director, Laurel McKellar ventured to China earlier this month. The results were many and positive as two Friendship Agreements were signed, a new exhibition of peasant paintings was confirmed - to complement the Dazu Rock Carvings exhibition - and planning details have begun for September’s opening.
During their six day trek, Marskell and McKellar travelled by air to Shanghai, Chongqing then by car to the smaller centre of Dazu. Located a short distance into the mountains from the Academy of Dazu Rock Carvings are two mountains which are home to thousands of ancient rock carvings dating back to the Tang Dynasty (7th Century). Though most of these statues, which depict Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs, are carved into the hillsides, a small number have been excavated for travel. Forty-eight of these sculptures will anchor THEMUSEUM’s fall exhibition, Treasures of CHINA, as a North American premiere.
In Dazu, a series of meetings to finalize plans took place and THEMUSEUM team negotiated unique sculptures, miniatures and oil paintings created by contemporary Chinese artists which will be on view and available for purchase.
Marskell and McKellar also met with a high ranking Deputy Secretary from the Communist Party of China who engaged the two about the importance of the exhibition and expressed his pleasure that THEMUSEUM had reached out to help showcase Chinese culture to Canadians. Later that day the Deputy Mayor of Dazu hosted the delegation to a traditional Chinese meal.
Travelling back to Chongqing city proper, the team met with two Deputy Ministers. The first was the Deputy Minister of Tourism who is in full support of this international exchange and will promote it on government television across China and through Chinese Tourism offices in Canada.
The pair then met the Deputy Director General responsible for Chongqing Administration of Culture, Radio & Television as well as Cultural Relics. He too was impressed with THEMUSEUM and the efforts already achieved.
The first of the two Friendship Agreements was signed with the China Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing. (The City of Chongqing also has a Friendship Agreement with the City of Waterloo.) The first collaboration will see a collection of more than sixty beautifully coloured paintings and prints that reflect farming and peasant life in Chongqing in the late 1900’s. “THEMUSEUM’s mission is to scan the globe for fresh, cultural content and in this case we’ve literally done that,” says Marskell. “The fact we’ve also been able to forge Friendship Agreements with two Chinese museums only strengthens our commitment to this show and the ties our community has with China – and Chongqing especially.”
The second Friendship Agreement was signed in Shanghai at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, with the stated purpose of the pursuit of “mutual benefit and the potential for collaboration in the fields of art and culture.” The municipally owned museum shares a building with a creative children’s centre creating lots of synergy between Shanghai and Kitchener.
Treasures of CHINA featuring the Dazu Rock Carvings will open at THEMUSEUM September 20th.
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