Before he was an art collector, Sterling Clark was an explorer and adventurer. In 1908–9 he led an expedition across China’s northern frontier, covering nearly 2,000 miles of largely uncharted territory, primarily on mule and horseback. Beginning in Taiyuan in Shanxi province, Clark and his team, which included the young naturalist Arthur de Carle Sowerby, traversed “Shên-kan” (the provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu). Over the course of the yearlong trek, they collected wildlife specimens and compiled scientific data of lasting interest and significance.
Three years later, Clark and Sowerby published Through Shên-kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908–9. Part travelogue and part scientific record, the book greatly expanded Western knowledge of the terrain, climate, ecology, and culture of northern China. This exhibition marks the centennial of the publication of Through Shên-kan, bringing together equipment, records, and specimens from the journey and underscoring the impact and reach of the Clark expedition.
Through Shên-kan: Sterling Clark in China is supported by the Fernleigh Foundation