East met West at a special opening reception for the new Queens Borough Public Library exhibit, "Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China" on display through March 15 at the Queens Library Gallery, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica.
"This exhibit not only promotes cultural exchange between the United States and China, it is also certain to form a special bond of friendship between the two nations," said Sun Beixin, professor and deputy director of the National Library of China which through "Visible Traces" has lent the Queens Borough Public Library an unprecedented collection of rare materials to tell the tale of China's 3000-year history of the written and printed word.
Gathered to greet Beixin at the reception were several dignitaries, including Deputy Consul General Wang, Consul Wang He and Consul Xu Jingshan, all representatives of China's Consulate General's office to New York. Also in gathered for the occasion were representatives from Harvard University, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institute, the New York Public Library, and the Asia Society. Additionally, the event was attended by Chinese-language media, including the Xin Hua News Agency, the World Journal Sing Tao, the Ming Pao Daily News, the Chinese American Voice, and Sino TV.
"This exhibit represents a quantum leap of trust," said Gary E. Strong, director of the Queens Borough Library system, during the reception, crediting the decision of the National Library - the fifth largest library in the world- to allow "Visible Traces" to take place.
"This is an exhibit one expects to see at a major museum, not a library," said Strong, underscoring the excitement of the curatorial team of the Queens Borough Library.
"Visible Traces" contains a selection of 68 items from the National Library, chosen to chart the evolution of language and printing in China, one of the world's most ancient civilizations. From the earliest examples of language - inscribed oracle bones-to later forms of communication possessing both decorative and educational value, the exhibit currently on view at the Jamaica library branch is unprecedented in both the United States as well as China.
"The exhibit represents material from four areas: rare books and writings, rubbings, maps and materials from China's many ethnic groups," said Sherman Tang, director of the Central Library. "The [National] library might show you some material from one of these areas, then exhibit a few items from another, always rotating. Never before have they shown so many items from all sections on view at once like this... and never in this country."
"Previously in China, it would take months, years perhaps to see the materials all gathered here in this one exhibit," Tang continued. "You can appreciate that this is quite an honor, quite unprecedented."
Seeds for the "unprecedented" exhibit were planted back in 1996 during a library conference held in Beijing during which Strong first discussed a possible exchange between the two countries through an exchange between its libraries. By April of the following year, an agreement to form such a partnership was signed, resulting months later in "Visible Traces."
"This is the beginning of a relationship that should prove very beneficial for both libraries," said Queens Library Exhibitions Manager, Mindy Krazmien.
A special symposium on the exhibit will be held Feb. 19, featuring presentations from scholars of Chinese texts and other rare items representative of the exhibit's collection. Space is limited. For more information about the symposium or its accompanying catalogue, call 990-8665.
©1999 Community News Group
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