Shanghai Library hosting new exhibition themed on famous novel

chinadaily.com.cn Updated:2023-06-26


The exhibition Around the World in 80 Days is held at the Shanghai Library's Pudong branch. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

An ongoing showcase in the Shanghai Library's Pudong branch is displaying exhibits from more than nine countries themed on the famed novel Around the World in 80 Days.

Authorized by the British Library and co-hosted by the Shanghai Library and IP operating company Museum Box, this exhibition explores the convergence of science, technology, art and culture in the 19th century.

Many of the precious artifacts on show, including the original manuscripts of Queen Victoria's patent certificate issued to the inventor Thomas Alva Edison, the childhood works of the renowned scientist James Clerk Maxwell, and the ledger of the shareholders of the Bank of England's inaugural issuance, are being showcased in Shanghai for the first time.

"The British Library currently has over 170 million artifacts and we carefully selected approximately 92 sets of exhibits from the library's massive collection as they have certain relevance to China and cover broad sectors," said Hao Li, the curator of the exhibition.

"We hope that visitors will find different aspects to connect with throughout the exhibition. Younger visitors may seek insights into fashion and cultural elements of the time, and we have numerous interactive exhibits to cater to their interests as well. Elderly visitors, on the other hand, may discover cherished memories while exploring the exhibition," Hao added.

Inspired by the iconic adventure tale "Around the World in 80 Days" by French science fiction novelist Jules Verne, this exhibition beckons visitors to embark on a journey mirroring the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, the novel's protagonist.

The exhibition guides guests across 24 thematic halls which represent nine countries, including England, France, Italy, Egypt, India, Singapore, China, Japan, and the United States.

"The underlying narrative hidden behind the obvious narrative of the novel is actually about the periods before and after the 19th century, the First and the Second Industrial Revolutions. Through these two revolutions, people created many new technological products through science, which in turn changed the way people live. These innovations then led to a reformulation of how people utilize energy resources," Hao explained.

The exhibition showcases the transformative impact of scientific advancements in the 19th century on society today through manuscripts, books, stamps, newspapers, artworks, patent certificates, sound archives, and some precious digital collection resources from the Shanghai Library.

The Shanghai Library and the British Library have successfully co-organized several exhibitions, including "The Jewel of the British Library: Masterpieces of British Literature" and "Follow the Rabbit! Alice's Centennial Journey to China", in recent years.

The exhibition will run until Sept 19.

Chen Leyang contributed to this story.