Institute of Archaeology


Zhiming Chen

Presenting narratives of the Maritime Silk Routes: A comparative study of museum exhibitions on the route of MSR

Zhiming Chen

Email: zhiming.chen.14@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Heritage Studies



The Maritime Silk Routes (MSR), as a major cultural route, is capable of being interpreted in multiple ways, with considerable complexity in terms of its geographic and chronological scope, patterns of exchange and cultural, economic and political impacts. Museum play a vital part in telling this story, acting as a platform for the interpretation and presentation of the past, but also can be places for people to interact with their perceptions of the past and be an active agent for generating knowledge and expressing evolving ideas. Archaeologist and museologist, designing museum exhibition and interpretations on the MSR, are constructing frame works for presenting artefacts, narratives, visitor meaning-making and public learning. These are capable of promoting visitor experiences and stimulating multiple levels of physical and emotional connection. Current approaches can be examined through the analysis of various factors involved in producing museum exhibitions, and through investigating how components complement each other in a system of representation.

My research is aim to study the construction and interpretation of narratives of the Maritime Silk Routes and how it has been presented in different museums, in different countries along the MSR. I explore the selection and handling of MSR narratives in museums and how they are reflected on the content, language and displays in the museums. Specifically, I look at the impact of various factors such as collections, physical spaces, setting, policies, financial and administrative context on the presentation of MSR. I relate them to the wider narratives of the MSR and hence compare the similarities and differences of the narratives currently presented and explore those that are under-reflected. I also aim to consider possible future practices for the presentation of MSR including the construction on more complex narratives using museum resources from different regions and countries and the ways to achieve it.  


    • BA, Archaeology, University College London, 2014
    • MA, Public Archaeology, University College London, 2017