Beyond relics: Chinese museums seek more visitors

By Wang Kaihao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-12-02 07:13:58

Beyond relics: Chinese museums seek more visitors

[Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

"It's impossible for a small museum to attract both adults and children at the same time," says Wang Weiyi, an official of the Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of Nanyue King. The museum, which is located in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, has designed animation programs for children based on history.

"We choose to focus on the next generation to encourage parents to bring their children here during the weekends," he says. The measure also helps tackle the perception that museums are "too serious" a place.

The museum is spread over 10,000 square meters of area in southern China, where the Nanyue State had existed in the second century BC, and looks small when compared to the Palace Museum's 720,000-square-meter location.

But the Guangzhou museum isn't lagging behind in innovation. It developed an animation movie in 2010 by creating a fictional story about alien adventures in Nanyue State. Although the movie's plot seemed imaginary, details including rituals, costumes and social structure were inspired by archaeological discoveries.

Since the animation movie was broadcast on a local TV station, its popularity has compelled the museum to produce comic books and toys based on characters from it.

"When McDonald's souvenirs are favored by so many children, there's little reason why our museums, with China's rich history, should fail to find something appealing for young people," Wang says.

But many souvenirs are still far removed from modern life. At last week's expo, although some replicas of cultural relics sold for thousands of yuan, most people were seen frequenting shops selling small gadgets.

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