Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
The recently re-opened, three-story, Sichuan Museum provides a thorough overview of the region’s artistic and cultural highlights. It is a must-see for anyone interested in furthering their understanding of Sichuan’s cultural past, particularly the ancient, pre-Han, Ba and Shu cultures.
Rising off of South Huanhua Road, located in the city’s west close to the Song Xian Qiao Antique Market, the museum strikes an impressive tone with its twin, swooping glass towers and spacious, well-tended garden. Inside, its circular, open layout and expansive, thoughtfully curated displays make it the city’s most impressive museum, even if the Sichuan University Museum may possess more subtle charm. Additionally, the provincial museum's dozen exhibit halls, ranging from ancient bronze relics to Sichuan folk and Tibetan Buddhist relics, make it the most thorough.
The second floor carries perhaps the greatest number of highlights. Consider the monumental, Line Drawing of Arhat (1553) by You Qiu, and the wonderfully well-preserved bronze dings from the Ba and Shu civilizations (ca. 700 BC). Make sure to notice the fascinating hieroglyphic language used in those societies, which strikes a semblance to that of ancient Egypt.
Other highlights include the jade belt worn by a Shu king, considered the most valuable artifact in the museum, as well as the crowd-gathering carved ivory radishes, upon which sit tiny critters, in the beautifully narrated Sichuan folk relics museum. On the third floor, the 20th Century exhibit provided a surprisingly thorough revolutionary overview, including Long March soldiers’ grass sandals and an earthquake retrospective that often pushed beyond the rote, placid offerings of other Chinese museums discussing the recent past.
Still, there were a few noticeable shortcomings, notably the lack of a restaurant. A snack stand is all that was on offer and a lack of quality souvenirs. The audio guide’s English version, while delivered in a far-from-fluent voice, contained enough useful content to make it worthwhile, but the English errors found throughout the museum were somewhat disappointing.