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Evolving Landscapes Exhibit opens Nov. 3

Event includes first "China Bridge Symposium" Nov. 7

A unique collection of photographs documenting a century of transformations in China will be on exhibit throughout November at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The exhibit, “Evolving Landscapes: 100 Years of Change in Western China,” will be the first-ever public presentation of the historic images.

The exhibit, hosted by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the School of Human Ecology and the Wisconsin China Initiative, will take place Nov. 3-27 in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, Nancy Nicholas Hall, 1300 Linden Drive.  All photo texts at the exhibit appear in both English and Chinese. Hours of operation at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery: Tuesday - Thursday, 10AM - 4PM; and Sunday, Noon - 5PM.

A formal opening on Thursday, Nov. 7, will include an all-day symposium and an evening reception.  Renowned conservation biologist Peter Raven of the Missouri Botanical Garden will deliver the keynote address, “China: Conservation, Sustainability and the Future,” starting at 5 p.m.

The symposium will be the first in what is intended to be an annual cross-campus fall event with a China theme, coordinated by the Wisconsin China Initiative.  The inaugural UW-Madison China Bridge Symposium will be held Nov. 7 in the School of Human Ecology and feature the following three panels:

  • "Forces of Change: Ecology, Conservation and Climate in Western China," moderated by Nelson Institute Director Paul Robbins, 9:30 a.m.
  • "Perspectives on Change: Culture, History and Environment in China and Beyond," moderated by Institute for Research in the Humanities Director Susan Friedman, 1 p.m.
  • "Documenting Change: Capturing Place, Time and Transformation through Re-photography," moderated by School of Human Ecology Dean Soyeon Shim, 3 p.m.

Wisconsin China Initiative Director Nicole Huang will speak at the second of the three panels.  Click here to see a full list of the panelists.  All panels and the keynote address are free and open to the public.

The photographs for the Evolving Landscapes exhibit were captured by two accomplished scientists who, separated by more than 100 years, explored the rugged landscapes of China’s Sichuan region.  Professor Yin Kaipu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently retraced the steps of early 20th century British naturalist and photographer Ernest Henry Wilson, who had taken hundreds of large-format photos in southwestern China – one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world outside of the tropics. Yin, a botanist, re-photographed the same locations captured by Wilson, allowing viewers to explore a complex range of environmental, social and economic changes.

Expert commentary by UW-Madison faculty members accompanies each comparative set of photographs in the exhibit, which explore topics ranging from urban development, climate change and natural disasters to cultural values and family traditions.

“This is an extraordinary collection of images from one of the most environmentally and economically important regions of the world,” says Nelson Institute director Paul Robbins. “The work of these two photographers, separated by a century, helps us understand the scale of change in western China.”

A delegation of Chinese officials and scientists, including photographer Yin Kaipu, will participate in the opening events on Nov. 7, which are free and open to the public.

Complete details about the exhibit, symposium and reception are available at:, “nelson.wisc.edu/evolving


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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



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