xi's moments

Night at the museum brings ancient culture to life

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-05-26 10:55

HANGZHOU - The ancient past was brought to life at the China Jiangnan Water Town Culture Museum in Hangzhou in celebration of the 42nd International Museum Day last Friday.

Visitors to the museum in east China's Zhejiang province sang and danced to centuries-old melodies, while characters dressed in old robes and gowns talked about floods and harvests, kings and princesses, and shopping at the town fair hundreds or thousands of years ago.

"We intend to recreate scenes of day-to-day life in old times with accuracy in every detail, and we have excellent actors to impersonate diverse characters that would typically be displayed using mannequins," says Yu Qiuna, vice curator of the Museum.

Living history

The theme of this year's International Museum Day is "Hyperconnected Museums: New Approaches, New Publics." China Jiangnan Water Town Culture Museum aimed to let the audience "live" the exhibition, rather than the usual walk-and-glance experience.

Members of the public were encouraged to play along in reenactments, savor traditional pastries, and watch artisans make crafts.

"We hope the public can actually have fun during this encounter with living ancient culture," she said. Passing on and developing culture is necessary for the nation to strengthen its cultural confidence, Yu says.

"I loved the 'Night at the Museum' movie trilogy! When the dark falls, magic happens and brings every exhibit inside the museum to life," says Shelly Lau, a British fashion designer visiting Hangzhou. "But never had I ever imagined that it would be possible to experience in real life!" She says the costumes of the Jiangnan ladies and the elegant wedding dress were inspiring.

"The world today is hyperconnected. The development of the worldwide web and the evolution it brings have pushed museums to broaden their functions. Museums are playing an increasingly crucial part in connecting societies and the public," says Liu He, director of Zhejiang's Provincial Administration of Cultural Relics.

Liangzhu culture at Yuhang

One of the major attractions at the exhibition was the gallery of the Liangzhu Culture, says Yu.

Earlier this year, the Liangzhu relic site of Neolithic ruins in Hangzhou's Yuhang district was officially recommended by the National Commission of China for UNESCO as a candidate for World Heritage status in 2019. The site, a complex with an ancient city, tombs and a dam, dates to 3300-2300 BC, roughly contemporaneous with the Old Kingdom period in ancient Egypt and the Sumer civilization in Mesopotamia.

The dam is considered the earliest known Chinese water conservancy project and has drawn huge attention, both from China and abroad, according to Yu.

Other important relics of the Liangzhu Culture were also on display at the Museum.

Archaeological work began in Liangzhu in the 1930s, and it has grown into a comprehensive large-scale heritage site, according to Wang Ningyuan, a researcher at the Zhejiang Provincial Research Institute for Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

In the new edition of a high school textbook on China released in September last year, Liangzhu is presented as an important origin of Chinese civilization.

"A Marvelous Night at the Museum" was also meant to commemorate archaeologists' efforts to study ancient civilizations along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, according to Yu.

"Our event was held in honor of the archaeologists who have worked in Yuhang, origin of the Liangzhu Culture, and the extraordinary achievements they have made," she adds.

In 2015, the discovery of the Liangzhu dam was listed among China's top 10 archaeological discoveries.

"Museums are temples to preserve and carry on human civilization, and bridges to connect our past, present and future," says Liu, adding that they play a special part in promoting cultural exchange.


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