Saturday, April 25, 2015

“GENEVA AT THE HEART OF TIME – The Origin of Swiss Watchmaking Culture” Exhibition Unveiled at Capital Museum of China in collaboration with Museum of Art and History, Geneva and Vacheron Constantin

On April 23rd, 2015, the “Geneva at the Heart of Time – The Origin of Swiss Watchmaking Culture” exhibition organized by Capital Museum, China in collaboration with Museum of Art and History, Geneva and Vacheron Constantin was officially opened in Capital Museum, China. In the context of the 65thanniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and People’s Republic of China, it is the first ever Swiss horological exhibition in Capital Museum.
With about 350 exhibits including antiques clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches, as well as watchmaking tools and equipment on display, the exhibition displays the history and excellence of Swiss watchmaking and offers a unique view into the fine watchmaking history in Geneva, the cradle of fine watchmaking for more than three centuries, with a focus on its technical aspects and craftsmanship excellence. The exhibition will open to public from April 24th to August 12th, 2015, on a complimentary basis.
More than 200 watches and enamel exhibits of Museum of Art and History, Geneva are exquisite and precious, for example, "Les Frères Huault", Geneva (Switzerland), enamelers; Fromanteel, watchmaker, London (England), Gilt brass and enamel pocket watch, ca. 1680 and Rochat Frères, Cage with three singing birds and striking watch, Geneva (Switzerland), ca. 1814. The Manufacture Vacheron Constantin also exhibits about 80 exclusive pieces from its heritage collection, including the first-known pocket watch created by Jean-Marc Vacheron, founder of Vacheron Constantin, and an exquisite skeleton pocket watch presented at the National Exhibition of Zurich in 1939. In addition, Vacheron Constantin shows some precious tools and equipment.
The exhibition also showcases a reconstructed 18thCentury Geneva cabinotiers workshop, based on a painting by Christophe François von Ziegler on display at Museum of Art & History,Geneva. In addition to the exhibition of heritage pieces, craftsmen from Geneva, including MasterWatchmaker, Master Enameller, Master Gemsetter, Master Engraver, and Master Guillocheur demonstrate, in dedicated spaces in the exhibition, their age-old, yet state-of-the-art techniques from April 23rdto May 3, May 28thto June 3rd, and July 9thto July 15th, 2015.

The Capital Museum was previously located in the Beijing Confucius Temple, where it was opened to the public in 1981. The Beijing Municipal government arranged for the construction of a new museum and put great effort into this important project in 1999. The new building finally made its debut in December 2005 after four years hard work and was officially opened to the public in May 2006.
It is a large comprehensive metropolitan museum specializing in local history. It has an area of 24,800 square meters with a gross floor area of 63,800 square meters inside the building. There are two underground and five above-ground floors.
The museum itself is a work of art - a beautiful blend of classical and modern national characteristics of contemporary architectural design. Traditional features are reflected in the huge roof with wide overhanging, upturned eaves. The long brick exterior curtain wall defining its exterior elegance symbolizes the ancient city wall of olden times. The entire structure resting on a heavy raised platform in the north square represents the special ancient Chinese architectural style. A piece of Danbi (a massive stone carving with images of dragon, phoenix and mythical creatures) is embedded in the ground in front of the museum’s north gate. A memorial archway built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was erected in the spacious lobby attesting to a line of privilege in the Chinese sense of visual perspective. A partially exposed, elliptical cylinder shaped gallery building outside the museum implies the moment when cultural relics were excavated from the earth.

The Capital Museum today houses more than 200,000 cultural relics. There is no shortage of precious items renowned in China and abroad in its collection which is mostly from the Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties, including Buddhist statues, ceramics, calligraphy and paintings, bronze ware, jade ware, stone carvings, coins, seals, embroidery, bamboo carvings, wood carvings, ivory carvings, stationery, folk arts and crafts, etc.

Permanent exhibitions include Ancient Capital-History and Culture of Beijing, Folk Customs in Old Beijing, and some others focused on art presenting historical romance, cultural tastes, conventional wisdom, and artistic preferences of people in Beijing. There are currently no fewer than 5,600 exhibits on display.

The Capital Museum has extensive collaborative programs with other well-known museums of the world. A number of special exhibitions are organized and presented to the public each year; more than 200 of them have been held at the museum. Since 2006, the museum has collaborated with the British Museum to present Treasures of the World's Cultures: the British Museum after 250 Years, and with the Louvre Museum to present Treasure Exhibition Ancient Greek Art. The museum cooperated with many museums to present China Exhibits: 5,000 Years of Cultural Treasures and Beijing Fine Cultural Relics during the time the 2008 Olympic Games took place in Beijing. Many foreign political leaders as well as the General Secretaries of the CPC (Communist Partyof China) Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping, have visited the museum.

In 2014, for the coordination of APEC and other cultural activities in Beijing, Capital Museum planned and held several exhibitions as follows: Sensational Land: Treasures of Jiangxi, Sailing Far and Wide on the Sea: Exhibition of Treasures from the Maritime Silk Road, Emperor Qianlong’s Private Garden, Harmonious Life: The State of Ba in the Eyes of a Yan Princess, Water and Our Life: South-to-North Water Diversion Project, Smile of Khmer: Cambodian Ancient Cultural Relics and Art, and Amazing Culture of the Chu State.

About Museum of Art & History, Geneva
Opened in October, 1910 in the old city, Geneva Museum of Art and History is one of the biggest pluri-disciplinary museums of Switzerland.

While the building was designed by Marc Camoletti an architect son of the city, whose architecture is typical for the “Beaux-Arts style” en vogue at the time in France, its collections largely date back to the musée Rath, one of the first art museums in Europe, which opened 1826.However, the aim of the "Grand musée" of 1910 was to reunite the city's collections of applied art, archaeology and fine arts within one institution. Since before, horology and enamels were famous around Europe as one of the most important and interesting public collection.

Separated in view to be presented in a thematic museum known as Musée de l’horlogerie et de l’émaillerie de Genève (1972-2002), the impressive collections of clocks and watches, enamels, jewels and miniatures, join back the main building in 2010.

With masterpieces, precious various objects and also studies items created both by the outstanding local industry and by abroad artists, the Geneva’s collection of horology proposes a look at the trades and art crafts practised in the Geneva Fabrique (manufactory) especially between 17th and 19th century.

In a region which saw the historical birth of watchmaking, it allows to understand horology in an international context that testifies to the art of timekeeping that was developed in Europe from the 16th to the 21st century.

Although Geneva is at the heart of the collections, the works are placed in an international context that testifies to the art of timekeeping that was developed in Europe from the 16th to the 20th century, and of which the Museum’s collection provides an abundant and high quality reflection.

From the cabinotier himself to the atelier he toiled in, viewers can follow the evolution of Geneva’s watchmakers, engravers, rose engine turners, chasers and enamellers; they can admire the enamelled watches and jewels that were the Fabrique’s speciality, appreciate the timepieces decorated in the Oriental style, contemplate miniature masterpieces, and understand the close ties maintained between the Fabrique artisans and the renowned portraitists that were honoured in the courts of Europe.

The world of the Fabrique is not just evoked or reconstituted: it lives on, in a space where the watchmaker’s workbench, the jeweller’s atelier and the enameller’s abandoned paintbrush belong to Geneva’s collective memory.

Geneva Museum of Art and History shall temporarily close its doors at the end of 2016, as it plans a vast renovation and extension of its historical building, under the direction of the famous French architect Jean Nouvel, in order to fit the expectations of the visitors of the 21st century.

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