Since its reopening in November 2013, Nanjing Museum comes back with a fresh look. Today’s Nanjing Museum, with diversity and comprehensiveness as its aim, is more than a cultural palace, but a leisure space, where you may experience the pleasure of learning and artistic appreciation or spend a casual afternoon with your family or friends. It now includes six galleries respectively dedicated to history, art, temporary exhibitions, digital representation, intangible heritage, and the society and culture of the Republic Period. The Gallery of History presents the “Ancient Civilization of Jiangsu” by displaying massive artifacts and specimen and allowing the objects to speak for themselves; the Gallery of Temporary Exhibitions with its 10 exhibition halls is able to hold various exhibitions showcasing the diverse cultures of China and the world; the Gallery of Art, equipped with 8 halls, exhibits artistic works according to their categories or their authors; the Digital Gallery, focused on digital media and interaction, provides new and innovative visiting experience; the Republican Gallery aims to show the urban life during that period by reproducing the street scenes of the time; the Gallery of Intangible Heritage introduces the traditional craftsmanship and artistic skills and the folk custom of Jiangsu Province through live performances.
Nanjing Museum is above all a cultural palace. The addition of the new extension allows the museum to showcase considerably more of its holding of some 420,000 pieces, of which more than 2,000 are national treasures. The permanent exhibitions present an outline of Jiangsu’s historical development, showcase those local histories and cultures with distinctive features, and illustrate the roles that Jiangsu has played in the Chinese history and contributions that Jiangsu has made to Chinese civilization. Apart from permanent exhibitions, it also provides several galleries to host special national and international exhibitions, expanding its already active exchanges with foreign museums from Australia to Mexico. All of our exhibitions are based on the professional knowledge of the six research institutions---Archaeology, Conservation, Ancient Architecture, Ancient Art, Intangible Heritage, and Exhibition. Accuracy is our foremost standard when we curate every exhibition, and all the departments and all the staff members contribute to the forming of every exhibition.
More than just a cultural palace, Nanjing Museum is a space of leisure, too.
The most prominent is the design of the Republican gallery, which aims to provide the audience with a live experience back to the 1930s through recreating a street scene. To make such visiting experience more “real”, our acquisition team tried all possible means to acquire authentic items from that time to set and decorate the street and the shops in it, including many details, even the cigar box on the table of the bar, the lamp on the desk of the Post Office, the phonograph in the cafeteria and the music played in the phonograph. Authentic items incorporated in the set scenes, memories brought into reality, the exhibition turns into a participative experience. Visitors can walk into a retro coffee house and have a real cup of coffee, walk into a variety shop and buy some rouge, or walk into a bookstore and scan old books for a while. Similarly in the Digital Gallery, there are many electronic devices which help visitors learn more about the details of the objects. You may open a window on the wall and see the ancient traders peddling goods in the town, which is part of an old painting aiming to capture the daily life of ordinary people. You may work out a puzzle and learn the interior structure of an ancient vessel. You may play a video game and know how to kill the enemy in the wars of the past. Or you may share your comments and photos by using a QR code. What is more, we carry out diverse social programs oriented for visitor of different age groups. Since 2014, we have started a program called “Our Festivals”. We hold different activities around Chinese traditional festivals and some Western festivals which are popular in China. In the Gallery of Intangible Heritage, from time to time, we invite inheritors of traditional art, such as paper cutting, lantern making and tea ceremonies, to perform for visitors. School children are always welcome to join them. We even have a specialized exhibition for the blind, where the blind can feel the charm of the Chinese civilization by touching the replicas and listening to the interpretation. Beyond all this, after the reconstruction, we have larger public space dedicated to shopping and dining. Whenever they are tired, visitors can always find space to have a rest and cheer up.
So that is what we have done in the past year.
“Most innovative Museums Award” was set up by Chinese Museum Association in 2012, which is aimed to choose two to three museums which have made great achievements and exerted great social influence in such aspects as exhibitions and displays, programs, management philosophy and operation modes in the past year. And Nanjing Museum is honored with the award in 2014. The key to our success has been the delivering of a fresh approach to a classic art museum. We no longer see visitors as learners but as participants, and try to interest them from every aspect, from social programs to exhibitions, from scene reproductions to oral performances, from museum stores to video games. The entire Nanjing Museum staff shares responsibility for engaging visitors and thereby presents content that engages, enlightens, and inspires. Visitors are experiencing the Nanjing Museum’s remarkable collections, highlighting the triumphs of human creativity, like never before, as evidenced by one and a half years of record-breaking attendance.
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