The Jianchuan Museum Cluster was founded by Mr. Fan Jianchuan in Anren Town, Dayi County, Sichuan Province, China. The cluster spreads across 80 acres of land, with a gross building area of over 100,000 square meters. It has a rich collection of over 8 million artifacts, with 404 pieces/sets recognized as Class-One National Cultural Relics. The motto of the museum project is “collect war for peace, collect lessons for the future, collect disasters for safety and collect folklore for inheritance”. The cluster now consists of about 30 individual museums, organized by four major themes: the Anti-Japanese War (1937 – 1945), the ‘Red Age’ (Cultural Revolution 1966 – 1976), the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, and Folklore and Culture. Jianchuan Museum Cluster is so far the largest non-state museum project in China, a National 4A-level tourist site, and a National Cultural Industry Demonstration Base. In 2015, the cluster was awarded the title of ‘China’s most innovative museum’.
Mr. Fan Jianchuan, born in September 1959 in Yibin, Sichuan, is the president of Chengdu Jianchuan Property Group and director of Jianchuan Museum Cluster. Mr. Fan has been a sent-down ‘intellectual youth’, a college teacher, a deputy mayor and a real estate entrepreneur. Since 2003, he has invested billions of RMB in building and developing China’s biggest private museum cluster for over a decade, which has introduced a new mode of non-state involvement in cultural heritage preservation and opened up a new realm of cultural industry. His collection, which took him over half of his life and all his wealth to amass, will eventually be donated to the Chengdu government, as stated in his will, thus becoming the shared heritage of the whole nation and its people.
The cluster’s Anti-Japanese War museum series includes: the Museum of Mainstay, which showcases China’s 8 year-long defense against Japan’s invasion under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party;
The Museum of Front Battlefield, demonstrating the 22 important battles which occurred during the Resistance War and were fought by the Kuomintang (Nationalist) Army; the Museum of the Flying Tigers, a commemorative museum of the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force and the alliance between China and the United States in 1941 – 1942; the Museum of War Prisoners, dedicated to the Chinese captives during the Resistance War, and the Museum of Sichuan Troops that commemorates the 300,000 soldiers and 3 million civilians who went out of Sichuan to support the front line.
The Chinese Veteran Handprint Square displays a collection of handprints from over 4,000 Resistance War veterans. The Square of Chinese Heroes consists of 229 cast-iron figures of prominent Resistance War military leaders. The Square of the Chivalrous Friends of China is a group of portrait sculptures of 40 foreigners who made humanitarian contributions to China during the Second World War.
The Red Age Museum series consists of the Museum of Red Age Porcelain Artwork, the Museum of Red Age Living Goods, the Museum of Red Age Badges, Clocks and Stamps, the Museum of Sent-down Youth, the Museum of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the Memorial Hall of Deng Xiaoping, the Museum of the Long March in Sichuan. The Folk and Culture series includes the Museum of Foot Binding, the Museum of Old Mansion Furniture, the Museum of Weapons, the Museum of Chinese Medicine and the Memorial Hall for Yangtze River Rafting. The Earthquake series includes Earthquake Diary 5. 12 – 6. 12, the Museum of Earthquake Artwork, the Museum of Hu Huishan and the Museum of 5. 12 Earthquake Relief.
Fan Jianchuan has challenged and expanded the conventional conception of a ‘museum’, by building, for the first time in China, a group of museums with various commercial properties, such as hotels, teahouses and antique shops, and creating a multifunctional museum complex that serves the purposes of exhibition, research, education, and tourism.
As a National 4A-level tourism site, Jianchuan Museum Complex has made Anren become officially known as the ‘Museum Town of China’. After all seven of the local factories closed down, the expanding tourism industry has been providing good prospects for reemployment and an improved standard of living for the towns 80,000 residents.
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