Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The world's biggest museum?

Went to the Ministry of Culture's new year party at the National Museum of China this evening. The NMC has been closed for rennovation for three years but will re-open on 1 April so this was a sneak preview. Actually, I'd been in November when David Cameron was here and it was a construction site then, but is pretty much finished now. The architects are GMP from Germany who beat off stiff competition from Foster & Partners, Herzog & de Meuron etc. They've brought together two existing museums - Museum of the Chinese Revolution and Museum of Chinese History, both dating to 1959 - and created what some people are now calling 'the world's biggest museum'. The main lobby is 300m long and 30m high and the total floor area will be 200,000 sqm (The Louvre is 135,000 sqm). Naturally, the Germans get the first blockbuster show, The Age of Enlightenment, co-curated by museums in Berlin, Dresden and Munich. The fact that an exhibition about The Enlightenment will mark the re-opening of such an important national institution says something about China's opening up. There's even an enormous statue of Confucius outside, unthinkable 20 years ago.

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