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Santa Barbara Maritime Museum to Host Lecture on Ancient Chinese Treasure Fleets

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum presents "When China Ruled the Sea," a lecture by Howard J. Smith, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.

By 1405 A.D., China had been a powerful empire for nearly 2,000 years.

The crown jewels of Emperor Zhu Di’s navy were his treasure fleets of the Ming Dynasty. These behemoths, nearly half the size of World War II aircraft carriers, were the largest wooden sailing ships ever built.

And although the wealth they carried back to China was staggering, it created conflict between the two factions that served the emperor; the Military and the Mandarin bureaucrats.

Learn of the consequences of the time and how today China (again becoming a powerful player at sea) is celebrating its past. 

In 2005, our speaker, Howard Smith, was the curator for an exhibit on the fleets of the Ming Dynasty at the Ventura County Maritime Museum.

His most recent book, a novel, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139: Concerto Quasi Una Fantasia, was just published.

Smith, a board officer for the Santa Barbara Symphony and head of its Planned Giving Committee, has been honored three times as one of the top business leaders on the Central Coast by the Pacific Coast Business Times.

He served for three years as chairman of the board of the Ventura County Economic Development Association, for which he has been recognized as Business Executive of the Year by the Ventura County Leadership Academy and as Small Business Advocate of the Year by the SBA. 

Smith graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from the University of Buffalo and Nanyang University of Singapore with an Ed.M. in administration and a bachelor's in Asian studies and was a graduate fellow at the American Film Institute.

He taught for five years at UCLA Extension and has lectured nationally. A frequent Op Ed contributor to the Ventura County Star and the Ojai Valley News, his articles have also appeared in The Washington Post, Horizon Magazine and numerous trade publications.

Smith's lecture is free for museum members and $10 for non-members. A members-only reception will precede the talk, running from 6:15-6:45 p.m.

To register visit www.sbmm.org or call 805.962.8404 x115.

The SBMM lecture series is sponsored by Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, John C. Woodward and Silvio Di Loreto.

Dennis Schuett is the marketing coordinator for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum


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