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By Helen Jones on

Roaring start to New Era of Cooperation between Science Museum Group and China

A ceremony in which two lions were ‘woken up’ when their eyes were dotted by His Excellency Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, and Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, marked the start of a new era in cooperation between the Group and China.

Speaking yesterday alongside H.E. Ambassador Liu and UK Culture Minister, Michael Ellis, Sir Ian welcomed an audience of VIPs, journalists and guests to celebrate the Chinese New Year and a new era of Sino-UK cooperation with the dancing lions and other events at a special adults-only Lates, attended by approaching 5000 people.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Madame Hu Pinghua, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Dame Mary Archer, Michael Ellis outside The Sun: Living With Our Star. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

Speaking in Wonderlab, Sir Ian said that China is a ‘vital part’ of the museum’s vision, adding that the Museum already tells the story of the British, American, European, Japanese and Russian space programmes ‘and we would love to start collecting Chinese spacecraft.’

Sir Ian highlighted a number of projects: Superbugs, an exhibition about the rise of antibiotic resistance, will be adapted for China in partnership with Guangdong Science Center. The exhibition will open there this summer and then tour three other Chinese cities, in a project supported by Wellcome.

Sir Ian Blatchford and H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming taking part in a Chinese New Year ceremony. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

In the UK, an exhibition Moments in Motion – 40 years of photos of Chinese on the train by renowned Chinese photographer Wang Fuchun – will open at the National Railway Museum in York in May this year and tour to other museums in the Group.

For an exhibition of Imperial Clocks from the Palace Museum, Beijing, the Group provided consultancy and loaned objects to the Hong Kong Science Museum exhibition, which opened last December. This paved the way for a collaboration between the Group and the Palace Museum for an exhibition of Imperial Clocks in London in 2020.

Traditional dancers performing in the Making The Modern World Gallery. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

And a planned exhibition about science fiction in the Science Museum will feature Chinese stories, such as the novels of Liu Cixin.

Looking forward to a ‘charming and beautiful night’ of Chinese culture and science, ‘heartfelt appreciation’ of the Science Museum was expressed by Ambassador Liu, on his first official visit to the Museum. ‘I am very pleased and excited to hear of so many joint programmes.’

He said that in 2017 China spent 1.76 trillion yuan on science and technology, and referred to the recent first landing on the far side of the moon by China’s robotic Chang’e 4 mission as ‘a new chapter’ in space exploration.

H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming screen printing Chinese New Year poster. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

Culture Minister Michael Ellis said it was a ‘particular pleasure to be here at this great event’ which he added is a ‘shining example’ of bilateral relations between China and the UK.

Mr Ellis referred to the museum as ‘THE Science Museum’ and said the event was magnificent, also congratulating Sir Ian on his recent knighthood.

The minister highlighted the Science and Industry Museum’s Wonder Materials exhibition in Hong Kong, which focused on the development of graphene.

Dame Mary Archer, Sir Ian Blatchford, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Madame Hu Pinghua, Mr. Xiang Xiaowei, and Mr. Jiang Sunan in Mathematics: The Winton Gallery. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

Last night’s Lates programme was supported by the London Chinatown Chinese Association and included the Beijing Publishing Group’s augmented reality display of a 16th century ancient scroll documenting Chinese invention, and events on China’s culture, space programme, dinosaurs and more, to mark the Year of the Pig, which symbolises productiveness, happiness and good fortune.

In other events, the museum presented an exploration of the future of music technology with Jarvis Cocker—former Pulp frontman, solo artist, writer and broadcaster.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Dame Mary Archer and H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming enjoying China Lates at the Science Museum. © Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group

Among those who attended last night were the Chair of the Board of Trustees; Dame Mary Archer; Board members Prof David Phoenix, Mrs Lopa Patel and Iain McIntosh; along with Science Museum Foundation Trustee Professor Richard Clegg; Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Science and Media Museum; Jonathan Newby, Deputy Director, Science Museum Group; Dame Sue Owen, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Trade; Richard Burn, HM Trade Commissioner for China; Richard Clegg, Science Museum Foundation Trustee; and James Bridge, CEO of the UNESCO UK National Commission. There were nearly 30 people from Chinese media, notably CCTV, People‘s Daily and the Xinhua News Agency.