Discover Ming: the Golden Empire in this newly commissioned film which provides an exclusive behind the scenes look at the exhibition presented in Barcelona.
Ming: The Golden Empire is our major touring exhibition that tells the story of the Ming Dynasty, an empire that reigned from 1368 to 1644. Having toured previously to De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam in 2013 and the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh in 2014, the exhibition is currently visiting Spain for the first time. We are delighted to have partnered with “la Caixa” Foundation and Nanjing Museum, China, to produce an exhibition that offers visitors to experience the art, society and history presented from the rare and beautiful collections of this fascinating Chinese empire.
This is the first collaboration between Nomad Exhibitions and “la Caixa” Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in continental Europe and the third-largest worldwide. The Foundation funds numerous cultural and arts projects for its members and the general public, including an ambitious programme of exhibitions with international collections, that are presented at their variety of cultural forums in Spain.
As described by Natàlia Farré, el Periodico, Ming “dazzles in CaixaForum Barcelona", where it is on display until 2 October 2016. The exhibition will then travel to cities Palma de Mallorca and Zaragoza as part of the twelve-month tour. Our in-house design studio created a bespoke tailored design for each of the three institutions, with personalised content of Spanish history integrated with the story of the exhibition.
Walking through the exhibition’s four main themes of the exhibition, visitors experience the rich and diverse collection of 126 original Ming dynasty treasures that include ceramics, textiles, exquisite jewelry, and paintings loaned from Nanjing Museum, one of the largest and oldest museums in China. The exhibition begins with Imperial and Palace Life of the era, represented by rare and luxurious objects that once belonged to members of royalty. The theme then transitions to focus on the society and culture of the empire, the distinction of class and hierarchy, and the art prominent of the time. An Album of paintings and poetry, which dates to 1578, was specially added to the collection of the Spanish tour for this section. The works all celebrate the natural beauty of the lower Yangtse River and were created by leading artists of the day including Lu Shiren, a student of Wen Zhengming (1470 – 1559).
Continuing through the exhibition, the importance of the dynasty’s international economic dominance is reflected in the third theme, “The Good Life”. Aesthetic ideals encouraged a consumer market for high quality art and artefacts, which can be seen by the exquisite objects on display. As visitors walk through the final theme entitled “Beyond the Empire”, they can discover A Map of the Myriad Countries of the World (1602). This national treasure is one of around 25 coloured copies of original printed maps by Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit priest who arrived in the Portuguese trading post of Macau in 1582. Ricci was fascinated by Ming China and was one of the first Europeans to learn Chinese. His map is a remarkable document from a time when knowledge, trade and exploration were shaping the modern world. With the Ming Empire at its centre, the map symbolises the newly established interaction between Chinese society and different cultures.
A unique feature to the exhibition is Ladies at leisure in an ancient dynasty, an unsigned painted hand-scroll that dates from the early Qing Dynasty, which is presented at its full length of 13.5 metres. Nanjing Museum believe that this is the first time since the scroll’s creation that it has been publicly displayed revealing its full length. “It is unlikely that the scroll has ever been fully displayed due to its length in size, and the fact that Chinese hand scrolls were only traditionally viewed section by section” says Tim Pethick, Director, Nomad Exhibitions. The full sequence of scenes can be seen at CaixaForum Barcelona.
Buck, Tobias. “La Caixa: Spain’s quiet powerhouse.” Financial Times 2015. Web. 5 Sept. 2016.
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