Journey through a transformative era of science

China Daily Updated:2023-07-03


The exhibition Around the World in 80 Days is held at the Shanghai Library's Pudong branch. CHINA DAILY

Themed on the famed novel by Jules Verne, the exhibition Around the World in 80 Days at Shanghai Library's Pudong branch explores the convergence of science, technology, art and culture in the 19th century.

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

Many of the precious artifacts, including the original manuscripts of Queen Victoria's patent certificate issued to the inventor Thomas 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 shown in Shanghai for the first time.

Authorized by the British Library and co-hosted by the Shanghai Library and IP operating company Museum Box, the exhibition beckons visitors to embark on a journey mirroring the footsteps of the novel's protagonist, Phileas Fogg.

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


The exhibition Around the World in 80 Days is held at the Shanghai Library's Pudong branch. CHINA DAILY

"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 lived," Hao explains.

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

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

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 runs until Sept 19.