Thank God it’s Friday

Posted on May 1, 2015


We at SC Exhibitions do not only produce and present our own conference – The Touring Exhibitions Meeting (registration for Istanbul September 10 – 12 just opened) – we are also regular guests at other gatherings around the world. We believe in the importance of establishing personal links with our partners, and we know that actively participating in conferences broadens our horizons.

Dr. Zahi HawassZahi Hawass at ASPAC 2015
© The Mind Museum

Earlier this year we joined ASPAC, the Asia-Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres, as a sustaining member, and I was lucky to join my first ASPAC annual meeting in Manila at The Mind Museum. This new science centre in the capital hosted this year’s conference, and is a cultural anchor in the new booming business district of Bonifacio Global City.

We were happy to give all 150 delegates a free copy of “Discovering Tutankhamun – From Howard Carter to DNA”, by Dr. Zahi Hawass, and the world-renowned archaeologist also accompanied me on the trip, signing the book for everybody and taking countless selfies before we went on a guided city tour. People are fascinated by King Tut, and Dr. Zahi answered countless questions from our ASPAC friends.

However in Manila I couldn’t stand the association of shoes as a possible symbol of power, perhaps because of a sparkling crystal shoe by Swarovski I saw at Disney’s Cinderella promo exhibition in London, or perhaps even because of King Tut? We have two pairs of shoes in our exhibition: Golden sandals and ones with a symbolic miniature picture where the Pharaoh is trampling on Egypt’s enemies.

For better or for worse, people will always be fascinated by the vast footwear collection of Imelda Marcos, the Philippines’ controversial former First Lady – although I remember an article in a magazine some one or two years ago that stated a part of the 1,200 pairs of shoes had been destroyed by insects and water. It didn’t take long for our city guide to mention both her infamous shoes and her husband, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 – 1986.

Parts of the shoe collection are on display in a museum, but Dr. Zahi and I had more desire to see as much as we could of this city, which isn’t often found on the route of museum conferences or business trips.

After a visit to the historic old town (where American tourists took the obligatory selfies with Dr. Zahi), our guide took us to the area of Manila Bay, where giant concrete buildings shape the landscape. These concrete buildings (e.g. the famous Cultural Center of the Philippines, which isn’t a bad piece of 70s architecture) are likely a robust legacy of the Marcos era.

I was wondering if James Bond ever filmed in this district of the metropolis? If not, I found a photo gallery on Facebook for James Bond’s film teams’ location scout:

Dr. Zahi and I had a great conference week in Manila. What we will remember most is perhaps not the mysterious shoe collection, the historic old town, the impressive Imelda-Marcos-Meets-James-Bond neighbourhood at Manila Bay or even the excellent food; it is the friendliness and warm hospitality of the Filipinos, and in particular the friendliness of our host team at The Mind Museum. Thank you for being such great hosts!

The China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing will be the host institution of ASPACS’s annual conference in May 2016, and we are already looking forward to it.

Sandals at the Tutankhamun exhibition
Sandals at the Tutankhamun exhibition


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