An 18th century shield from Arbroath Abbey is part of a new exhibition on Scotland due to open in China on Friday, April 28.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Romantic Scotland’, explores how a romantic view of the country’s past, popularised by writers like Sir Walter Scott and painters like Alexander Naysmyth, compares with archival evidence of Scotland’s history.
Curated by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the National Galleries of Scotland, the exhibition will see nearly 100 objects, paintings, photographs and other treasures flown over 5,000 miles to be enjoyed by visitors at one of China’s largest cultural institutions.
Romantic Scotland aims to draw Scotland and China closer together by strengthening the cultural ties between the two nations. The artworks and artefacts going on display in Nanjing all exemplify the sheer strength and richness of Scottish culture, and will both engage the Chinese public and help raise awareness of Scotland’s illustrious history. This in turn encourages interest from potential visitors to Scotland, fulfilling the long-term commitment of made by both countries to strengthen Sino-Scottish relations.
The exhibition will also provide a platform for landmark research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), into what motivates visitors to engage with Scottish culture and heritage. Academic partners from the UK and China will explore how visitors move through the museum and interact with the exhibits, as well as monitoring how visitors engage with the artworks and artefacts on display. Visitors will be encouraged to get interactive both in the exhibition and on social media, sharing photographs and video, posting thoughts on a huge graffiti wall, and sending postcards back to Scotland.
The research will facilitate knowledge exchange between academic and cultural institutions in Scotland and China, with the aim of increasing understanding of audiences in both countries. Heritage tourism contributes £2.3 Billion to the Scottish economy every year, with China emerging as a particularly strong market in recent years. Improved understanding of what attracts international visitors to Scotland could yield great benefits for the heritage sector.
Rebecca Bailey, Head of Education and Outreach for HES, said: “It’s fantastic to be collaborating with Nomad Exhibitions, National Galleries of Scotland, and Nanjing Museum once more to bring this exciting new exhibition to a Chinese audience.
“The exhibition showcases spectacular romantic interpretations of Scotland’s changing landscape, from storm-lashed coastlines and majestic castles to jagged mountain peaks and haunting rural landscapes. These images of Scotland are still influential around the world today, and we’re interested to hear from visitors about their views of modern Scotland.”
Patricia Allerston, co-director of ‘Celebrating Scotland’s Art’, the National Galleries of Scotland’s project to redevelop its spaces devoted to Scottish art at the Scottish National Gallery, said: “Chinese visitors are one of the National Galleries of Scotland’s fastest growing audiences. We are delighted to have this opportunity to present 31 of our top historic Scottish paintings in Nanjing, alongside the collections of Historic Environment Scotland.”
The project has grown out of a long-standing relationship between HES, Nomad Exhibitions and Nanjing Museum, which has previously produced the award-winning A Tale of Two Cities exhibition.
Tim Pethick, Director of Nomad Exhibitions, added: “We are delighted to be once again collaborating with Historic Environment Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Nanjing Museum in the production of a ground-breaking new exhibition. Following on from the highly successful and award-winning A Tale of Two Cities exhibition, Romantic Scotland has given us the opportunity to introduce some wonderful Scottish paintings and artefacts to Chinese museum visitors. The project continues the ambition of Nomad Exhibitions to work with international cultural partners to conceive, manage and produce exciting and diverse international travelling exhibition programmes.”