xanadu at the nla

Canberra’s National Library of Australia has just opened an exhibition of historical images from China, Xanadu – Encounters with China with artifacts from as far back as Marco Polo, through to more recent documentation when China opened up in the 70’s.

On show is the Munster atlas of 1550, the Library’s oldest atlas; Jesuit engravings depicting the Yuan Ming Yuan summer palace; a 19th century lithograph showing an apartment in a Mandarin’s house; Richard Hakluyt’s account, The Principal Navigations
and Discoveries of the English Nation, published 1599-1600; Australian architect Hardy Wilson’s drawings from 1922 of China’s imperial architecture; a travel account by Australian journalist George ‘Chinese’ Morrison (1862-1920); and rarely-seen photographs portraying Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai in the 1930s.

Xanadu reflects a China that doesn’t exist anymore. Through the drawings and photographs depicting aspects of court and street life, visitors will gain a greater understanding of the history of the country and its society.