Spotlight on Chinese wartime science at Bristol Museum
Press release issued: 4 February 2016
A pop-up exhibition of photographs providing a fascinating insight into Chinese science during the Second World War will feature as part of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s Chinese New Year celebrations this weekend.
‘Chinese Wartime Science Through the Lens of Joseph Needham’ is part of a digitisation and engagement project between the University of Bristol and the Needham Research Institute, sponsored by the British Inter-University China Centre.
In early 1943, British biochemist Joseph Needham arrived in China, sponsored by the British Council to support scientific research and teaching in a country torn apart by its war with Japan.
Over the next four years, Needham criss-crossed ‘Free China’ building links with the country’s scientific community, bringing them much needed supplies and equipment, as well as facilitating the exchange and publication of their research overseas.
He visited factories built underground to avoid Japanese bombing; laboratories, libraries, and classrooms rehoused in disused temples; and even mud huts as academic institutions fled westward ahead of invading troops.
Dr Needham kept detailed dairies and took over 1,000 photographs during his travels. The exhibition draws on this collection of material providing a unique window on life in wartime China.
‘Chinese Wartime Science Through the Lens of Joseph Needham’ is part of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s Chinese New Year celebrations taking place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February, 10am to 4pm.
The British Inter-University China Centre is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Manchester and Oxford, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council through its Language Based Area Studies scheme.
The Historical Photographs of China project, a collaboration between scholars at the University of Bristol, University of Lincoln, the Institut d'Asie Orientale and TGE-Adonis, aims to locate, archive, and disseminate photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands overseas. The project has held several exhibitions of its materials since 2007.
The Needham Research Institute in Cambridge is a centre for the study of the history of East Asian science, technology and medicine. Home of the Science and Civilisation in China Project, it houses the East Asian History of Science Library and welcomes scholars from all over the world.