Sir Aurel Stein was described by Sir Denison Ross (1871-1940) as “the pride of two nations”. From 1887 he lived in India making his knowledge available in his adopted country, Britain, which provided the opportunities for him to work in areas where he could make best use of his knowledge and expertise. The geographical distance, however, did not break him away from his native Hungary, where he spent his formative years and developed his academic foundations. He regularly visited Hungary, and remained in close contact with representatives of Hungarian intellectual life. During his brief sojourns in Budapest, he lectured at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, of which he was a member since 1895. Throughout his life he supported the Academy with donations, bequeathing his printed books, part of his manuscripts, and his photographic collection of over 7,000 items to the library of the Academy.

This exhibition introduces Sir Aurel Stein, the man and the scholar, with reproductions of photographs, maps, letters and manuscripts from the Aurel Stein Collection preserved in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and other Hungarian collections, supplemented by rare books and publications from the holdings of the University of Hong Kong Libraries, and the private collection of Dr Paul Kan.

The Hungarian Orientalist, archaeologist and explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein was interested in the meeting points of the great civilizations of the East and the West. His name and works have become inseparable from the history of the Silk Road, which was not merely an Eurasian trade route linking China with the Mediterranean, but a conduit of ideas, beliefs, styles of art and technologies. For over a thousand years from the second century B. C. onwards, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and classical Western culture converted and flourished here. It was the heritage and the written and material relics of these cultural encounters that attracted Stein to Central Asia.