An Exhibition to Recount the Bibliothèque Sino-Internationale of Geneva

Place : Haute école de musique de Genève, 2 rue du Général-Dufour.
Opening event : Thursday April 11 at 13h00.
Time : Open daily from April 11 to end of June 2024, 9h00-18h00
Guided tours on request by email at: info@bibliosinoint.ch

The Bibliothèque Sino-Internationale (BSI) was undoubtedly the most ambitious cultural diplomacy project of China in the first half of the 20th century. Installed in Geneva from 1933 to 1950, its primary mission was to enhance the mutual understanding of China and the West. It offered to the public an extensive collection of Chinese and Western literature, spanning scientific, cultural, artistic, societal, and technical topics. The library also housed a treasure trove of precious artifacts: calligraphy, paintings, photographs, films, musical instruments, etc.

This ambitious project did not stop at Geneva’s borders. A Shanghai section of the BSI offered numerous Western publications to the Chinese public. Those two sister institutions were only the start of a vast undertaking: plans were underway to establish other Sections in Nice, Lyon and New York, aiming at fostering «the most intense exchange between the civilizations of the two worlds». Sadly, the wars were to put paid to this dream.

Today, almost nothing is left of the BSI and it was a challenging path to unearth the remains of this story. When it was decided that an exhibition should be organised, it seemed pertinent to ask for the help of illustrators. They would bring back to life the adventures of the library and the people who took part in it. Thanks to the art of the talented Cocomoy and Qu Lan, the BSI will be back in Geneva for a while.

  • Curation : Dr. Estelle Niklès van Osselt
  • Research Team : Prof. Xavier BOUVIER, Dr. Pascale BUGNON, Dr. Claire Hui-Chen LIAO
  • Design and production : Anne-Sophie Kreis
  • Graphic concept : Marc Chiapello, So Bam
  • Illustrator : Qu Lan, Coralie Moy (Cocomoy)
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