cultural heritage

China as depicted in United Archives’ collections

image of the original Carl Simon’s projector and materials. Courtesy of United Archives. Photo Alex Wittmann.

With 10 press photo agency- and publisher archives, 13 photographer lifeworks and many more assets to our name, United Archives is today looking at a combined stock of several million images – and can say today, that these collections are united in United Archives. Many of UA’s archives hold images which have a relationship to China: most of them are travel images, which show what was in the focus of tourists in the 1979ies, 1980ies and 1990ies or what professional travel photographers thought could be of interest for their picture agencies worldwide.

A small but highly peculiar collection with great historical interest is the lecture about China created by Carl Simon in the first half of the last century. We are sure that Carl Simon never visited China, nevertheless he created a lecture with about 80 hand colored glass slides, to show his audiences in the Germany of the early last century his ideas about Chinese culture, history and politics. The lecture was not precise or professionally curated, and for illustration purposes he also mixed images of Japan and China – this creating some inconsistencies which showed up only during the PAGODE – Europana China project: a curatorial mistake done about 100 years before.

As said above, Carl Simon somehow had these black and white glass slides coloured by his staff. The slides were arranged according to corresponding themes or countries and conserved into small wooden boxes. For these slide series we assume that he had teachers or historians involved to create the so-called “lecture booklets”, in which every slide motif was individually described. He used to lend these wooden boxes with the hand-coloured slides to interested people, together with the lecture booklets and a slide projector, so to allow replication of the show. The slides were shown for example in the town hall or in a parish with the Dia projector and supplemented by the detailed lecture texts: in this way it was easy to tell exciting stories and present the appropriate pictures, thus recreating an educational and also entertaining event.

View the Carl Simon collection by United Archives in Europeana

We have to imagine that at the beginning of the 20th century only a few people were able to travel to get to know other countries, their people and culture. For the others, all this was made possible by Carl Simon’s visionary idea, which motivated him throughout his life. Unfortunately we do not know how he came to this large slide collection. Perhaps he got it from those early travellers who came back in Europe, or from photographers he knew. That will remain his secret: there are no more contemporary witnesses.

PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839

pagode festival: gems from the lesser-known chinese collections in europe

PAGODE Digital Festival is proud to present an online talk and presentations to discover barely seen collections of Chinese heritage in the holdings of PAGODE content partners Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, KIK-IRPA and United Archives. The thematic focus of the the event will be on the “everyday exceptional”, to discover daily life in China through digital heritage collections.

Organized by the Department of Asian Studies at University of Ljubljana.

Moderated by Maja Veselič.

Date and time: Tuesday 15th June 2021 h. 15:00 – 16:00 CEST


  • Introduction to the PAGODE project (Antonella Fresa, Promoter s.r.l.) – view presentation
  • Chinese heritage in Europe as a result of exchange of objects, ideas and people (Maja Veselič, University of Ljubljana)
  • Collection highlights from KIK-IRPA (Erik Buelinckx, KIK-IRPA) – download PDF
  • Collection highlights from United Archives (Carsten Pauly, United Archives) – download PDF
  • Collection highlights from SEM Slovene Ethnographic Museum (Ralf Čeplak Mencin, SEM)
  • Engagement with PAGODE – Europeana China (Sofie Taes, Photoconsortium)
  • Q&A

Hosted on Zoom by the University of Ljubljana.


PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839

pagode – video challenge showreel

PAGODE – Europeana China is making an impact on education, being included in a students project for the Master in Cultural Studies at KU Leuven. The organizing students of this “PAGODE group” are Gelan Cen, Lilia Chalakova, Shau Zou Fong, Jing Yun and Emily Jayne Benson-Kallman.

The students’ project included a video competition, where participants were expected to select one, several or a series of pictures from the Scenes and People from China campaign in the PAGODE crowdsourcing page and explain the reasons for their choices by recording a nice video to be shared on social media. The videos were be evaluated by an independent jury basing on a detailed evaluation system, to award the nicest one.

We are happy to present the best videos from the competition!

first prize: sudan chen

second prize: Cynthia

second prize: Chloe Lam

Third prize: xue’er Huang

Third prize: jade zhang

third prize: wayne

image on top: The solitary stillness of the mountains and ravines, c. 1980, CC-BY Qian Songyan, Östasiatiska museet via Europeana

PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839

digitization and curation of missionary collections in europe

PAGODE – Europeana China is proud to open the online symposium about missionary activities and East Asian collections in Europe, organized by the Science and Research Centre Koper; the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana and the Regional Museum of Celje.

PAGODE Roundtable discussion, 20th May 2021 h. 11.00 – 12.30 CEST


Moderated by Jonas van Mulder, KADOC Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society, KU Leuven, Belgium

With participation of
• Ismo Malinen, Chief Intendant of the Picture Collections, Finnish Heritage Agency (Finland) – view presentation
• Carine Dujardin, Head Public Services and Sharing Expertise at KADOC-KU Leuven (Belgium) – view presentation
• Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik, Department of Asian Studies, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) – view presentation
• Antonella Fresa, Promoter srl (Italy) and Sofie Taes, Digital Curator, Photoconsortium (Italy) and KU Leuven (Belgium) – view presentation

Zoom link:

Programme of the online symposium, 20 and 21 May 2021 PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839

chinoiseries: passion for asia in europe

Since the Antiquity, Europeans showed great interest in any goods that came from the Far East. Such interest became a real passion in the 17th to the 18th century, giving birth to an aesthetic style dubbed Chinoiserie. Because of the long journey that goods like silk, porcelain and lacquerwork took to Europe, they were generally very rare and expensive. Owning a blue and white Chinese vase was a sign of prestige and wealth. Only rich bourgeois and nobility could buy them. European goldsmiths adorned Chinese porcelain with elaborate gold pieces and Dutch painters loved to represent Chinese vases in their nature-morte paintings.

European artists and craftsmen were enchanted by patterns of Chinese landscapes, birds, flowers and people, so that  castles and palaces had their own “Chinese room” with wallpaper depicting landscapes of China to adequately frame lavish collections of porcelain and lacquer furniture

Discover the Chinoiserie style as an great example of how art and techniques from different cultures can merge and mix, and enjoy a nice selection of images from Europeana in the blog authored by Julien Ménabréaz in Europeana website >>

image: Tea service and stand, c. 1725-1732, PD Rijksmuseum via Europeana

PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839

from peking to hankow: a belgian adventure in china

From 7 May to 10 October 2021, a nice temporary exhibition is on display at Train World – Schaerbeek train station in Brussels

This exhibition unvelis the little-known yet amazing story of the construction of China’s longest railway line, from Peking (Beijing) to Hankow (today Wuhan), connecting the North to the South, by Belgians in the early 20th century.

For seven years, several thousands of people laboured on this huge undertaking. This exploit was achieved by engineers, technicians and workmen, and also Western and Chinese diplomats and financiers. A young Belgian engineer, Jean Jadot, then aged only 37, coordinated and implemented this massive project.

Besides this historic adventure, the exhibition will also showcase the impressive development of China’s present-day high-speed railways.

Original works relating to the construction of the Peking-Hankow line and created by artists Li Kunwu (China) and François Schuiten (Belgium) add a contemporary artistic touch to the exhibition. Other works by Li Kunwu that draw inspiration from the Chinese railways will also be on display.

During the visit, the main players in the saga, embodied by talking figures, will tell some fascinating tales to go back in time and relive this epic moment.

More info:

image sourced from Train World Facebook page.

PAGODE – Europeana China is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme of the European Union, under GA n. INEA/CEF/ICT/A2019/1931839