Aboriginal art to be on display at Beijing Olympics


Canadian Museum of Civilization president Victor Rabinovich explains artifacts in the First Peoples of Canada exhibit to a member of the Beijing Art Museum of the Imperial City. The 150-piece exhibit will open in China one week before the start of the 2008 Summer Olympics.


Canada will be well represented in Beijing this summer, and not just on the podium.

While Canadian athletes strive to bring home gold, 150 Canadian cultural treasures will be winning people over at Beijing’s Art Museum of the Imperial City.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is sending an exhibit of Canadian Aboriginal art to China that will open one week before the Olympic Games.

"That means the exhibition is going to be available to both a Chinese audience and to a truly global audience and we are very excited about this," said museum president Victor Rabinovich.

The First Peoples of Canada exhibit is the largest and most comprehensive collection of Aboriginal art ever sent abroad.

"Its size and its scope are simply unprecedented. It’s the finest exhibition of this kind that has ever been presented anywhere in Asia," he said. "It’s a success story and I sincerely hope people recognize it as such."

Zhoa Haishang, with the Chinese Embassy, said, "This is the first time for Chinese audiences, and global audiences to see such a calibre, such important and comprehensive collection of Aboriginal culture. It’s quite historic."

With 10 million residents in Beijing and huge numbers of tourists expected to visit for the Olympics, Haishang expects the number of people attending the 10-week run to top hundreds of thousands.

Haishang said that during the Games numerous other countries will be sending cultural exhibits but the Canadian display is special.

"In the large scope you can say it is part of the cultural celebration of the games, but this event is one of the most significantly presented in Beijing," he said.

"It will be staged by the national museum of China. That really shows how significant it is."

Co-curator Nicholette Prince said the exhibit is not just meant to relate the past, but also to make the Beijing audience aware the Aboriginal people continue to make up an important part of contemporary Canadian society.

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