Seated by the side of a wide window in a Chinese Outline classroom, in the fourth floor of the Graduate Building, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), I was passionately watching the beautiful campus scenery and the historic buildings of Beijing very far to the north of the campus. At the same time, being fascinated by the falling yellow leaves of the high standing trees beside me, which signal the arrival of winter, I was struggling with myself to bring back my attention to the classroom lecture. In fact my inspiration to watch outside the window was triggered by lecture notes - that is the amazing history of china. I was trying to visualize a 5,000 years of Chinese history and art in few minutes.
I know I was a bit out of focus as I tried to watch outside the classroom, listen to my instructor’s lecture and at the same time to respond to the countless questions my mind was asking. In fact it was obviously near impossible to concentrate in that way. “To imagine the rich collections of Chinese history and memory, to have a good picture of the history of prosperity, there must have been another means,” I concluded with myself.
Fortunately, on Friday, 18th November 2016, BIT organized a historic site visit to one of the world’s amazing museums, the National Museum of China. To learn history, to connect with the lives and realities of previous generations there is no a better place to visit comparable to a museum of history and art. The National Museum of China is an integrated national museum directed under the Ministry of Culture of China, and draws equally from both history and art and is dedicated to its collections, exhibitions, research, archeology, public education and cultural communication. It is located at the east side of Tiananmen Square, opposite the Great Hall of the People. It was founded in February 2003, based on the merging of two previous museums, namely the National Museum of Chinese History and the National Museum of Chinese Revolution.
More than 120 international students from BIT visited the museum delightfully. It was an eye opening exposure to rich collections of Chinese history and traditional artworks. After a renovating expansion project was carried out from March, 2007 to December, 2010, the museum now covers about 192,000 square meters of area making it one of the largest museums in the world. It provides fast and efficient means of first class facilities for visitors. With more than forty halls, the museum have exhibitions of Ancient China and The Road to Rejuvenation. Visiting international students pleasantly expressed their excitement. Goleneva Nadezhda, from Russian Federation expressed her excitement, “I like to attend museum exhibitions. Because museums provide a lot of information about culture. Chinese culture is one of the oldest in the world. They have their own characters, traditional language, food cuisines and history. At first I was overwhelmed by the wide variety of Chinese culture. Although there is a shortage of English caption to some of the art works, after I have personally visited the National Museum of China, I was able to answer most of my questions. I like most of the exhibited masterpieces, fragments from terracotta army, beautiful vessels from vine, decorated figures of animals and ornaments, jade figures of phoenix and dragons from the 16th – 11th century BC! It was amazing. I would like to thank the International Students Center of BIT for this opportunity.”
Bethelehem Bashaheder, from Ethiopia said, “The museum is a brief showcase of the PRC’s culture and history, including some from around the world. I was inspired by the facility and the welcoming people in the museum, which I believe creates convenience for visitors and for preserving the heritage as well.”
All of the international students have their own impressions about the museum and appreciated the office of ISC for arranging such an opportunity. A Rwandan international student, KIIZA JUMA, expressed his wonder, “I experienced and learnt a lot about the Chinese history in a short time and an interesting lesson I got is how much the Chinese people value their friend nations by keeping their gifts in the National Museum.”
The museum contains a record of history and art which surpasses the cumulative five thousand years of Chinese art and cultural heritage, attesting to the long road to revival and provides high-quality exhibitions which reflect the fruits of this world civilization. The museum is now a home for the display of Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty), and has a permanent collection of more than 1,050,000 items, with many precious and rare artifacts of bronze, pottery, porcelain, jade, gold and silver, currency, paintings and calligraphy, pictorial bricks and sculptures which are not to be found in museums anywhere else in China or the rest of the world.
Also included in the museum are regular displays of more than a dozen categories related to special exhibitions and international cultural exchange exhibitions. The Museum has also a rich collection of selected African Sculptures mostly traditional carvings from the sub-Saharan areas in Central and West Africa. Through the display of the selected African historic sculptures the museum encourages visitors and international students not only to enjoy fantastic collections of sculptures but also to carry out an extensive study and research on African and Chinese Art. Personally I was astonished by the works of art of artists from West African country Togo, especially the Ewe people.
Collection of Art and History is a good means of creating an international linkage and strengthens friendship and cultural communications. Finally I would like to appreciate the National Museum of China for taking such a pioneering effort of creating life long record of history and memory and to Beijing Institute of Technology for arranging this memorable visit to the museum.