Museum Lecture Series


Sunken Treasures: Shipwreck and their Cargoes from the Maritime Silk Road

Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics

co-hosted by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum 

Harbour Viewing Gallery
Hong Kong Maritime Museum
Central Ferry Pier No. 8
Man Kwong Street

4 April 2019

Reception: 6:30 pm

Lecture: 7:00 pm

Followed by Curators' Dialogue with Dr. Libby Chan, Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Admission free


06 Front Princessehof, Photo by Ruben va

Free upon registration



About the talk

Shipwrecks are mysterious; they show us a glimpse of the past. When a ship sinks to the bottom of the ocean it is locked up in time. Since the 1980’s many shipwrecks in Asia (and other areas) have been uncovered. They have provided us with an incredible amount of new information on how trade was conducted in different periods in history along the ‘Maritime Silk Road’. The majority of the cargo found on those shipwrecks consisted of ceramics. While most of the cargo disintegrates with time and water, ceramics often survive remarkably well. This highlights the importance of this material to inform us about history. In this this talk ceramics from several important shipwrecks will be shown explaining to the visitors why these pieces are true Sunken Treasures. A seemingly modest bowl can give a whole new perspective on written history! The ‘treasure aspect’ is therefore not so much on the monetary value, but on the historical value of those pieces. 

About the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics

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The finest ceramics collected in The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics. The museum has the largest and most varied collection of Chinese porcelain in the Netherlands and has a rich collection of the Dutch Art Nouveau and Art Deco ceramics from the period 1880-1930. The 18th-century city palace of Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, Princess of Orange Nassau, ancestor to King Willem-Alexander, is located at the heart of Leeuwarden’s historic city centre. This building houses the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics. Our collections of Chinese Imperial porcelain, magnificent Art Nouveau and iconic Delft Blue objects, and works by artists such as Picasso, show that ceramics are of all times and of all ages. In addition to the permanent exhibition From East and West the museum has a lively programme of varying, much talked-about exhibitions.

About the Speaker

Eline van den Berg

Curator of Asian ceramics , Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics


Eline van den Berg is curator of Asian ceramics at the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics. In 2015 she joined the museum as junior curator and in 2016 she took on her current position. Eline has studied Chinese art and archaeology at Leiden Univisity and SOAS, University of London specialising in Chinese ceramics. In addition to her work at the museum she is a board member of the Dutch Royal Asian Art Society.   


Libby Lai-Pik Chan

Assistant Director, Hong Kong Maritime Museum


Dr. Libby Chan is the Assistant Director (Curatorial and Collections) at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum where she oversees the museum’s curatorial practices, is responsible for exhibitions’ and collections’ development, and directs the CSSC Museum Resource Centre as well as the development of the museum’s Library and Archive. Before joining HKMM, she was the Senior Curator (China) at the Asian Civilisations Museum, National Heritage Board of Singapore, overseeing the Chinese collection and leading the China gallery revamp project. Previously, she was the Research Associate and Curator at the Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, and was the lecturer at the Department of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She also served as a J. S. Lee Memorial Curatorial Fellow at the Freer Gallery
of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and was the Curatorial Consultant at the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas. Her Research interests include underwater archaeology in Asia, the history and heritage of the Maritime Silk Routes, Chinese decorative and export arts, cross-regional studies on East-West material cultures, and the maritime history of Hong Kong and Southern China. She has authored numerous catalogues and articles on Chinese art, maritime history, archaeology and museum studies, such as The Dragon and the Eagle: American Traders in China, A Century of Trade from 1784-1900 (2018), East Meets West: 13th – 18th century Maritime Silk Routes (2018), The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver (2017), Newly excavated shipwrecks in China and Southeast Asia: Revisiting Medieval Chinese Maritime Trade (2017), 5,000 Years of Chinese Jade: Featuring Selections from the National Museum of History, Taipei
and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
(2011) and co-authored Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda: the Famen Temple (2014).

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