• A new exhibition examining the history of Indian indenture in the British Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean culture in London today opens at the Museum of London Docklands from tomorrow. Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture puts a spotlight on the 450,000 Indians who left India between 1838 and 1917 to work for periods of three to five years on Caribbean plantations in return for transport, a minimal wage and some basic provisions. Among the objects on show are letters from Caribbean planter Sir John Gladstone petitioning the government to provide workers from India as well as contracts, shipping company records, postcards, and papers from the Parliamentary Archives that give insights into the realities of life under indenture. Also on display are photos, jewellery, film and artwork which uncover personal stories and family memories from London’s Indo-Caribbean community. Admission to the exhibition in the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery is free. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
• The resilience and creativity of people in 19th century China is explored in a new exhibition at the British Museum which opens today. The Citi exhibition China’s hidden century examines the age of the Qing Dynasty, which ruled from 1796 to 1912, and focuses on a spectrum of different groups in society – from members of the court and military to artists and writers, farmers and city-dwellers as well as the globalised communities of merchants, scientists and diplomats, reformers and revolutionaries. Among the more than 300 objects on display are a water-proof straw cape made for a street worker, farmer or fisherman which is being publicly displayed for the first time, cloisonné vases given by the Last Emperor’s court to King George and Queen Mary for their coronation in 1911, and, a silk robe which belonged to the Empress Dowager Cixi, de facto ruler of China from 1861 to 1908 and a contemporary of Queen Victoria. Admission charge applies. Runs in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery until 8th October. For more, see britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/chinas-hidden-century.
• The intersection between science, art and sound and how that impacts our understanding of the natural world is explored in an exhibition at the British Library. Animals: Art, Science and Sound features 120 artworks, manuscripts, sound recordings and books, many of which are on display for the first time. They include the earliest known illustrated Arabic scientific work documenting the characteristics of animals alongside their medical uses (c1225), the earliest use of the word ‘shark’ in printed English (1569), Leonardo da Vinci’s notes (1500-08) on the impact of wind on a bird in flight, and one of the rarest ichthyology publications ever produced, The Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain (1828-38), which features hand-painted illustrations by Sarah Bowdich. Also present is the first commercially published recording of an animal from 1910 titled Actual Bird Record Made by a Captive Nightingale (No. I) by The Gramophone Company Limited and one of the earliest portable bat detectors – the Holgate Mk VI – used by amateur naturalist John Hooper during the 1960s-70s to capture some of the first sound recordings of British bats. The exhibition, which runs until 28th August and which carries an admission charge, is accompanied by two free displays at the library – Animal Rights: From the Margins to the Mainstream (runs to 9th July) and Microsculpture (runs to 20th November). For more, see www.bl.uk/events/animals.
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