Eighteen national-level museums are to join hands in a major cultural relics exhibition next year in Beijing to promote better understanding of different civilizations.
The plan was announced during a two-day conference of the International Alliance of Museums of the Silk Road, which wrapped up on Nov 25 in Fuzhou, Fujian province.
Huang Zhenchun, secretary-general of the alliance and also deputy director of the National Museum of China in Beijing, announced that the exhibition will open in the museum in March.
The Silk Road was an ancient Eurasian network of trade routes that gradually developed since China’s Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 24). And its maritime counterpart also roughly appeared during the same period.
“The exhibits will reflect the history of trade, cultural communication, spread of technology, and the mutual influence of lifestyle and fine arts,” he said. “The dialogues between ancient civilizations will offer reference for people today.”
The alliance, a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization, was founded in Beijing on May 18, 2017－International Museum Day－and is now hosted by the National Museum of China.
Some 157 museums and institutes involved in cultural heritage protection, including 111 from China, have joined the alliance.
Follow-up editions of the exhibition will be held every two years, Huang said.
Bojana Boric Breskovic, director of the National Museum in Belgrade, Serbia, said: “The exhibition will enable people to have a new view of the friendly relationship between Serbia and China. It’s in the two peoples’ interests.
“We have a wide collection of archaeological and artistic items, from prehistory to the modern age,” she said, adding that the half-million artifacts in the museum offer abundant choices for the major exhibition in Beijing.
Breskovic was among four foreign museum directors who attended the conference in Fuzhou and were newly elected as vice-presidents of the executive council of the alliance. The other three are directors of the national museums of Myanmar, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
An official website of the alliance www.musesilkroad.org was activated on Nov 24 to facilitate operation of the group and applications from more institutes. The second conference of the alliance will be held in Beijing in November 2020.
Delegates from 21 countries attended the conference in Fuzhou. This conference was also part of the eighth International Exposition of Museums and Relevant Products, which was held from Nov 23 to 26 and attracted 613 museums and enterprises from 42 countries.
Fujian is considered one of the starting points of the Maritime Silk Road. A Song Dynasty (960-1279) shipwreck found in the province’s city of Quanzhou is seen as evidence of the region’s importance to the Maritime Silk Road.
When Chinese mariner Zheng He led his fleet on several global expeditions during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Fuzhou was his port of choice before setting off on long voyages.
“From here, our predecessors sailed afar to build a maritime road connecting the East and West,” said Wang Chunfa, director of the National Museum of China and president of the executive council of the museum alliance.
“The Belt and Road Initiative turns a new page to inherit their spirit,” the director said.
“We’re thus called to have a more inclusive attitude and more open minds to make full use of our respective collections to create a win-win situation,” he added.
Guan Qiang, deputy head of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, said “more results are expected.”
“The alliance creates a wide platform for museums to have closer cooperation in terms of exhibition exchange, academic research and museum management among others,” Guan said.
Guan cited many achievements made in recent years through joint between China and Belt and Road-related countries like Kenya, India, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.