The National Museum of China opened on March 17th in Beijing after a $380 million “facelift.” The nearly two-million-square-foot mega-museum containing over a million objects in 48 exhibition halls is purported to be the largest in the world. The revamped museum, located on Tiananmen Square, combines the former Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution. Its centerpiece are two permanent exhibits: “Ancient China,” a “mammoth survey” of Chinese history, and “The Road to Rejuvenation,” an exhibit that covers the era of the Opium Wars (1840s) to the present.
The New York Times critiques the museum as sanitizing China’s past and alluding to the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward’s famine (during which millions lost their lives) in a scant three lines illustrated by a sole photo. The Times also notes that the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests are not mentioned. The museum, critics charge, dismisses the “shades of gray” in China’s present and past and glosses over the conflicts that have come out of the country’s multi-ethnic composition. A temporary exhibit on the European Enlightenment (“The Art of the Enlightenment”), curated by three German museums, is said to be more of an art exhibit than a political or historical presentation as Enlightenment ideals such as universal human rights are ignored.
We want to hear from you: Have you visited the National Museum of China? What are your impressions?
For a slideshow of the museum and more info about it, visit on Studio 360’s website here.
Photo: Maggie Magee Molino/My Shot
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