In Xi’an, the Shaanxi Archaeological Museum, China’s first archaeological museum, was just finished and will be accessible to the public on a trial basis beginning April 28. Prior to that, the Xi’an Museum had presented its “new face” after undergoing a five-month upgrade and remodeling. The formal opening of these two large museums this month adds to Xi’an’s reputation as a Museum City.
Featured image: A tomb mural of the Yuan dynasty in the Shaanxi Archaeological Museum
Museums are an important aspect of a city’s cultural character, providing a space for people to experience the past, comprehend the present, and speculate about the future. Xi’an, China, has worked hard to turn itself into a City of Museums, focusing on changing its cultural heritage resources, establishing an urban culture in the Xi’an style, and emphasizing its distinctive appeal as a thousand-year historic capital. The Party Xi’an Municipal Committee and Municipal Government suggested that the city’s cultural assets be protected, that the city’s cultural value be developed, and that culture be used to connect Xi’an with the rest of the world.
The proposed Shaanxi Archaeological Museum will be located in Chang’an District, Xi’an City, and will focus on the growth of archaeology as a discipline, displaying the process of archaeological labor, techniques, and research concepts. The museum features a 5,800 square meter interior exhibition space and a 10,000 square meter outdoor exhibition area, with 5,215 cultural artifacts on display in 4,218 groups. A number of exhibits at the museum have been renovated using innovative concepts and modern technology to ensure their preservation.
A Tang Dynasty cameleer statue that has survived thousands of years, as well as Western Zhou Dynasty horse and chariot pits and a Yuan Dynasty fresco tomb that has been transported into the museum as “packages” as a whole, are among the exhibits.
The Xi’an Museum is divided into three sections: the Tang Small Wild Goose Pagoda (Xiaoyan Pagoda), the ancient architectural complex of Jianfu Temple, and the museum area. It is located in the south of Xi’an City. It is a contemporary history museum that includes museums, historic locations, and gardens. The refurbished and improved Xi’an Museum greeted tourists with a “new appearance” in early April. In the 1,300-square-meter exhibition hall, more than 1,100 items (groups) of cultural treasures from the collection were presented.
Among them, more than 100 pieces (groups) will be shown to the public for the first time as museum regular exhibits, including a golden tiger ornament from the Warring States Period, a bronze opera figures paperweight from the Han Dynasty, and a painted infantry figurine, all of which will better demonstrate the historical and cultural heritage of Xi’an’s ancient capital.
Xi’an, along with Cairo, Athens, and Rome, is recognized as one of the “Four Ancient Capitals of History,” with a 3,100-year history.
Thousands of years of history and time are now concentrated in Xi’an’s museums of different sizes. There are 134 registered museums in Xi’an, encompassing more than 40 different subjects including history, art, and natural science. The Overall Plan for the Construction of the City of Museums in Xi’an, released in 2019, established the spatial framework for the construction of the City of Museums in Xi’an, transforming Xi’an into a true “everyday history museum” that can be heard, seen, and discussed at any time.
In addition to collecting, research, and presentation, Xi’an museums are experimenting with new educational, communication, and even recreational options. To better integrate museums into and serve the public, Xi’an has integrated museum resources and increased the function of museums as “schools.” The Xi’an Museum has brought its collection to the “cloud,” offering lectures through live streaming, and organizing public performances, relying on the quick growth of digital museums and coping with problems during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Classical and serious museums are now more accessible to the general public thanks to this omnipresent museum experience in new ways.