INTRODUCTION TO THE TIANJIN MUSEUM
The current Tianjin Museum can be traced back to a predecessor of the same name founded in 1918, making it one of the oldest museums in China. Over the past century the museum has amalgamated with numerous other museums and art galleries. Today the Tianjin Museum’s diverse collection includes over 200,000 objects and a 200,000-volume library, making the museum an institution that melds culture and history. In 2008 it was recognised as a first-grade Chinese museum.
The museum has a large, comprehensive, stand-alone collection of historical Chinese artefacts and artworks. Equally important are the museum’s modern historical documents, photographs and regional historical materials. These are a valuable historical resource, reflecting the social development and evolution of the Tianjin region since the late Qing dynasty. Together, these two elements form the highlights of the Tianjin Museum’s collection, and are the dual foundations for the museum’s work and development. Most striking among the museum’s historical artefacts and artworks are its oracle bones, jade ware, seals, ancient Dunhuang texts, paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, ink stones, postage stamps and local popular arts. These objects are numerous, in excellent condition, and of high material and artistic quality. Consequently the collection’s significance is widely acknowledged, among museums within China and internationally.
Work on the new Tianjin Museum building began in 2008, designed by the Architectural Design Department of South China University of Technology. This modern building has five split-level floors above ground and one basement floor, giving an expansive sense of space. The design of the museum’s interior innovatively and idiosyncratically combines corridors and windows that symbolise both the passage of time and links to the future. A total of 830 million RMB was invested in the new museum building, which spans a total area of 55,000 square metres, with galleries covering 16,900 square metres, 12,117 square metres of archives and 13279 square metres of public space. The building meets all the museum’s needs for display and exhibitions, collection management, academic research, conservation and restoration, and public education. It is the largest major public cultural institution in the Tianjin region, combining collection, preservation, research, display and education.
The new museum’s permanent exhibitions are based around the specific qualities of its collection. They illustrate Tianjin’s historical significance and important position in the course of china’s modernisation, alongside a wealth of material heritage accumulated over the millennial history of Chinese civilisation. The main permanent exhibitions are based on two historical periods: ancient Tianjin and modern Tianjin; in addition there are specialist permanent exhibitions of jade ware, painting, calligraphy, ceramics, auspicious objects, pure offerings of the scholar’s studio, and local popular arts. The 2,800-square-metre temporary exhibition space is available to accommodate major national and international exhibitions, incorporating material outside the main and specialist permanent exhibitions and enriching the cultural life of city residents. The international lecture theatre can accommodate close to 400 people and has state of the art facilities and equipment, making it ideal for fostering exchange by hosting major international academic events.
The new Tianjin Museum is founded on the richness of its collection and relies on the strengths of its own academic research. Making full use of its modernised venue and facilities, and cultivating innovation, the museum has a historical role of service to society as a public cultural institution. The museum intends to fully develop its role in Tianjin and the North China region as a major scholarly institution for the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of cultural heritage. As an institute of public education, the museum seeks to transmit the heritage of Chinese civilisation to future generations, to propagate cultural excellence and to enrich public understand. Moreover, the museum provides a service to society as a window of cultural exchange with the wider world.