The large exhibition occupied several buildings around the city of Urbino, inspiring the idea to follow a dual itinerary. The first was a thematic one designed to make Confucian doctrine more accessible, the second was integrated into the buildings themselves and designed to reveal some of the architectural richness of Urbino’s historic centre. Although it followed an underlying chronological progression, the exhibition’s setup was divided into seven different thematic sections that juxtaposed exhibits and models with descriptive panels, audiovisuals, musical and voice recordings in order to illustrate the major themes of the exhibition. “Teacher of Ten Thousand Generations” and “Illustrious Ancestors” were located on Francesco di Giorgio Martini’s Spiral Ramp; “The Teaching of Wisdom and Virtue” and “The Art of Good Government” could be found in the Castellare room of the Ducal Palace; “Virtue. Rite. Palace” and “The Hall of Virtues and Life” were set up in the Church of St. Dominic, while “Material Culture” could be seen in the Music School Chapel. In order to leave the historical exhibition spaces intact, a centre-based exhibition route was created in all the different sections using platforms of different heights and dividing screens. In the baroque Church of St. Dominic huge screens, twelve meters high and made of dark blue fabric, were hung up to divide the space into three sections and to provide suitable backdrops for the exhibition. Top lighting using narrow-beam spotlights pointed directly onto the exhibits enhanced the theatrical effect. The juxtaposition of light and darkness created a vision of unfocused, floating structures within which visitors were attracted by the luminous display cases, audiovisuals and beams of light that outlined the models. This also served to visibly reduce the volume of the exhibition spaces. The alternating diffused light and darkness carried visitors into a magical, mysterious world, bringing them back to the light of day only in the final section on material culture, where ancient and modern China came together.
Urbino, Ducale Palace
General indoor and outdoor lighting
Arch. Laura Griziotti
Photo: P. Castiglioni