CU Heritage Center to Host Smithsonian Photography Exhibit on China

Published: April 9, 2009

Separated from the West by thousands of miles and seemingly insurmountable cultural barriers, China has long been an unfamiliar, romanticized land -- until recently. In a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibit opening at the CU Heritage Center, visitors will glimpse China from an insider's point of view through 57 dramatic photographs taken by seven Chinese photographers.

Opening Monday, April 13, "Documenting China: Contemporary Photography and Social Change" will mark the first time a Smithsonian exhibit has been featured at the CU Heritage Center on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. The exhibit will remain on view through June 6.

It will run concurrently with the opening of the museum's long-term exhibit "Americans in a Changing China: 1920-2008." This exhibit examines early 20th century China through the eyes of 1915 CU graduate Lelia Hinkley who spent 30 years in China establishing medical clinics, playgrounds and free schools in impoverished areas. The exhibit reveals Hinkley's experience through her photos, collection of exquisite textiles and impeccably detailed letters. A CU study abroad display completes the exhibit with a focus on today's CU student experiences in China.

Focusing on the impacts of urbanization and industrialization in China, the Smithsonian exhibit, featuring the work of documentary photographers Liu Xiaodi, Jiang Jian, Zhang Xinmin, Luo Yongjin, Zhou Hai, Lu Yuanmin and Zhou Min, unveils truths about China's internal struggle -- a battle between modern industrialism and the traditional, agrarian past that has sustained the country for thousands of years.

"The exhibits encompass three views of change in China, which is a timely subject as China and its status on the international stage is changing so rapidly," said Kay Oltmans, director of the Heritage Center. "We are thrilled to be able to share this outstanding collection with the campus and greater community."

"Documenting China: Contemporary Photography and Social Change" was developed by the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine, and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service, or SITES. The exhibition was made possible by funding from Crystal Cruises.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. It connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit

Located on the third floor of Old Main, the oldest building on the CU-Boulder campus, the CU Heritage Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also will be open on several Saturdays to accommodate visitors for the SITES exhibit on April 26, May 2, May 9 and June 6 from noon to 4 p.m.

Featuring exhibits on the accomplishments of CU alumni and university history, the CU Heritage Center is sponsored by the CU-Boulder Alumni Association and is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 303-492-6329.