Souvenirs de Chine: the story of a Belgian engineer and doctors in China 1898-1908

This page is part of our exhibition archive. The exhibition took place from 16-10-2020 to 19-12-2020

Souvenirs de Chine: het verhaal van een Belgisch ingenieur en dokters in China 1898-1908Between 1870 and 1914, Belgians financed, built and operated hundreds of kilometres of train and tram lines across the five continents. In China, they built the railway line between Beijing and Hankou and a tram network in Tianjin.

Engineer François Nuyens left Ghent in 1905 for Tianjin where he built a power station and was 'chef de dépôt' of the tram network until 1908. The exhibition presents remarkable pages from his diary and photo books, and gives a picture of his working environment. Doctors Philippe and Adolphe Spruyt insured the medical service on the railway yards between Beijing and Hankou between 1898 and 1908. Their correspondence and more than 1200 photographic glass plates, kept in the Ghent University Library, offer a unique insight into the daily life of China at that time. In addition to special, intriguing photographs, the exhibition shows a wide selection from their collection of antiquities, now at STAM, which have never been shown before.

The exhibition, curated by VANDENHOVE and designed by Kris Coremans, is based on the research of dr. Johan Mattelaer and Dr Mathieu Torck (UGent), published in A Belgian Passage to China (1870-1930), (Sterck & de Vreese, 2020). It is organised in collaboration with the Ghent University Library and STAM, with the support of the China Platform and the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at UGent.

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