Philipp Neumann (Germany)
The former capital museum which started his planning stage in 1951, opened to the public in 1981 and was located in the Confucius Temple. In order to display a larger collection and to offer a better service to visitors a new capital museum was built in 2001 and opened in 2006, containing over 200.000 relics in its collection. It is located at 16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie, Xicheng Distric. With its five floors above ground and two floors underground the Capital Museum reaches a total area of 63,390 square meters. In regard to collection, research and exhibition, which represent the three main tasks of the museum and its innovative construction and architecture, the Capital Museum became a leading position among the museum in China as well as worldwide. Moreover, since 2008 the museum has opened to the public for free admission.
When Selina (editor of eBeijing) and I arrived at the Capital Museum I was truly impressed. The well designed innovative structures as the building's massive roof or the stone-made exterior wall without abstracting away from attention to detail creating a harmonious unit. The building radiated an atmosphere of mightiness being embossed. At the same time or maybe as a consequence of being embossed and harmonious, it had an appealing effect on me and I felt really excited. You could spend hours standing in front of the museum just observing the building to discover always new details.
However, our schedule disallowed spending hours only in front of the building so we entered the building. Wow! Inside the building it is almost more impressive than outside the building. There are three independent constructions within the new museum: the main exhibition hall and the oval exhibition hall where different kinds of cultural relics are displayed in three parts - the temporary exhibit, the main display, and the fine collection display (in total, there are 5,622 pieces of cultural relics on exhibition) such as Bronzes, porcelain ware, calligraphy works, paintings, coins, jades, seals, needlework and Buddhist statues. The third construction is represent by an office and scientific research building. The central hall and indoor bamboo courtyard are composing the open space in between. It is difficult to imagine how big everything is. You are feeling very small and unimportant, being devouted and fascinated at the same time about how human being can built up such a "dream construction", far away from real life.
All in all the architecture results in an "integration of past and present, history and modernism, art and nature". For me it also can be seen as a symbol of China's progress and a demonstration of China's increasing power to the world and its citizen. Fact is that you can spend the whole day exploring every corner of the museum without getting bored. If you want to make sure, take a tripod with you viz. Tripods are not allowed to use inside the museum. However I wanted to use a tripod to take photos and after Selina, my tripod and me passed the security check successfully our strategy was simple: Selina discussed the whole problem with the security while I spread around and took photos as fast as possible. They could not catch us both :-) and got confused. In conclusion: Don´t worry about it all.....Just go for it! And our strategy was successful, I got every picture which I wanted to shoot. However, it was really exhausting due to the fact that there were a lot of security. That's why at the end of the day we left exhausted but happy with the confident knowledge of having fulfilled our mission another super-structure in Beijing.
P.s.: The food of the Capital Museum´s cafeteria is pretty good but make sure that it is still warm :).