A new exhibition exploring the role of art collector, Cold War diplomat and former Durham University Chancellor Malcolm MacDonald played in international affairs opens this week.
Malcolm MacDonald was the son of Britains first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. After a successful career as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister, Malcolm became a diplomat. He excelled as an international negotiator, earning the respect and friendship of many world leaders and royalty across Asia and Africa from the 1940s to 1960s. One of the high points of his career was when Malcolm cooperated with the Soviet Union to chair an international summit which ended the civil war in Laos in 1962. Malcolm defused a dangerous Cold War crisis and helped prevent a spread of the conflict ongoing in Vietnam. Following his official retirement, he served as a
Beauty and Diplomacy: The Malcolm MacDonald Collections showcases Malcolms international activities as an eccentric diplomat and eclectic private collector. He once proclaimed that I like Beauty, I love Beauty, I worship Beauty in all its earthly forms. Malcolm collected many things, including over 400 pieces of imperial Chinese ceramic art as well as unique personal gifts such as a xylophone from his friend King Sihanouk of Cambodia and the head-hunting sword of his adopted father, Borneo head-hunter Temenggong Koh. Using items from his collections as well as the photographs of Malcolms friend K. F. Wong, this exhibition shows how Malcolms personal friendships and artistic passions contributed to his success as a prominent British diplomat during a dangerous and exciting period of recent history.
This exhibition has been created by Mr Alexander Nicholas Shaw, PhD researcher in Cold War secret intelligence history at the University of Leeds, in partnership with Durham Universitys Oriental Museum. Alexander said: The story of Malcolm MacDonald is not only a special chapter in the history of Durham University but also of international significance in understanding British foreign policy. Malcolms diplomatic achievements and unique personality are of exceptional relevance to the changing world we live in today. With the uncertainties of Brexit,
Beauty and Diplomacy is a collaborative exhibition developed by Alexander Nicholas Shaw, the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the University of Leeds and Durham Universitys Oriental Museum. It presents research undertaken by the Mr Shaws AHRC funded PhD project into Malcolm MacDonald and his spies.
Beauty and Diplomacy
The Oriental Museum is open Monday - Friday,