Dull, dusty exhibits? Not here

Release Time:2017-11-24

Source from China Daily

To most residents of Chengdu, Spring Festival is often linked with large-scale lantern shows. Jinsha Site Museum is one of the country's first museums that also hosts a lantern show-this year with an Egyptian twist.

The pyramids and other symbolic images from ancient Egypt have been turned into large-scale lantern installations made of bamboo, cloth and paper. Some are more than 15 meters tall. By day, they are outdoor decorations; at night, they lighten up the sky over the museum and echo the lanterns of ancient Sichuan culture.

The museum, covering 4,000 square meters, is where the golden Sun Bird was unearthed and is now exhibited. It is said to have been crafted by people from the Shu (an old name for Sichuan) civilization some 3,000 years ago.

Though there is a time gap between ancient Shu and ancient Egypt, they did share the same reverence for two things: gold and the sun, says Wang Yi, curator of the museum.

"The ancient Shu people made a golden smiling mask, and there's the Tutankhamun's mask (from Egypt) that is made of gold, too," Wang says.

Although many businesses were closed during Spring Festival, the Jinsha museum stayed open and extended entry for all the indoor exhibition halls to 9 pm and for the outdoor park to 10 pm.

That's why the museum attracted tourists and natives alike during the holiday. The museum is a cozy place where visitors can easily get around and drinking water is free.

The Spring Festival events wrapped up on Feb 12. The museum has been offering a combination of holiday celebrations, including food, performances and flower displays, with a taste of cultural relics since 2009.

"The first festival was planned to cheer up the city when it was still immersed with the sorrow of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008," says Qin Qing, from the museum's publicity office.

Qin says this year the festival attracted 700,000 visitors, 10 percent more than last year.

"We also want to change the rigid public image of museums and bring people closer to their own cultural heritage as well as world wonders," Qin says. "The staff members used to focus only on studies and academics. Now after nine years of practice, they can design and supervise the building of large-scale lantern compositions."

An ongoing exhibition Ancient Egypt: Worlds of Pharaohs and Gods will continue through May 4.

"Our exhibitions have featured world civilizations since 2014. We found that it enriches presentations and at the same time enhances international cooperation," Qin says.

More than 150 sets of ancient Egyptian relics from Canada's Royal Ontario Museum are on show, including mummy coffins and Cleopatra's bust.

Children get a treasure-trove brochure to follow and discover the collections. A smart guiding system using advanced technology and tablets allows visitors to be connected with the exhibits within a certain distance.

"So that visitors who are not familiar with the halls can be guided freely as they move," Qin says.

Li Bei, a cultural official for Sichuan province, says: "The exhibition offers a chance for East-West dialogue at a time when exchanges along the countries and regions covered by the Belt and Road Initiative are not only about trade but a combination of values that will be created through investment, culture and technology."

As Chinese museums look for ways to attract more visitors and play a bigger role as cultural venues, more people are choosing museum visits for holidays.

Officials hope for a growth in the trend.

Long lines formed outside the Chengdu Museum on the city's central Tianfu Square during the festival to see the exhibition on Dunhuang and Buddhism, Spirit of Silk Road: Dunhuang Art Exhibition and Treasures from the Land of Abundance.

That show continues through April 10.

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn