China National Museum of Women and Children

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June 20th 2019
Published: June 28th 2019
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Summer has arrived and the heat has led me to look for indoor things to do. After some searching online, I came across the China National Museum of Women and Children. It sounded quite interesting, although there were few reviews of it online. The museum is a fairly recent addition to the Beijing museum scene, only opening in 2010, and isn't on most people's itinerary when visiting the city. From Dongdan Station, on Line 1, it was a short walk to the museum. The museum is large and looks pretty grand and modern from the outside. I headed to the ticket office, where ID was required to get a free ticket. Then after a quick few steps back out in the heat, I headed into the main building and through security. The museum has six floors. The ground/first floor houses some temporary exhibition halls, but they were closed so I headed up the escalator to the second floor.

The second floor contains three galleries: the Hall of Children of Ancient China, the Hall of Children in Modern China, and the Hall of Contemporary Children. The first exhibition hall was the Hall of Children of Ancient China. It showed how, before, children learnt survival skills and the fundaments of living from their parents. This was a time when society was rather primative, and productivity and living standards were low. There was a diorama showing a hunter gatherer society where children studied their parents and imitated their hunting skills. It was during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC) when education became more formalised and recorded. This lead to the creation of the imperial examination system for selecting officials. Private schools were the main form of education in ancient times. Children learnt how to write Chinese characters, about rituals, poetry snd painting. The first of these types of schools were estsblished by Confucius scholars and They revered Confucius as a sage. There were some artifacts on display, I liked the old silk bibs, such bright and beautiful colors. I walked through to the Hall of Children in Modern China. This chronicled how children's lives as China went through so much upheaval with the Opium Wars, foreign occupation, and the events leading up to the founding of the PRC in 1949. It also lead to children becoming more active members of society. The gallery showed how miserable children's lives were during war and the Japanese occupation. There were quite a few old school textbooks and reading books on display, which I liked looking at. There was also a large painting, which I think depicted the first group of Chinese scholars leaving China to study in the US. There were also some really cool paintings that showed young Chinese fighting oppression and defending their motherland. There was also a section about famous young Chinese heroes, such as Zhang Jinhui, who had died aged 15 in 1930 as part of the revolution.The Hall of Contemporary Children displayed how life has been for children since the start of the PRC. Living conditions and standards have greatly improved and children have many opportunities. I really liked the exhibit of how children's bedrooms have changed over time, becoming more modern and having more technology in them. I also liked the picture of the kids travelling to and from school by water bus. I think that would be a fun way to commute.

The third floor was another temporary exhibition floor, and the exhibition was roped off, so I headed up to the fourth floor. This contained two exhibitions about women. The first was the Hall of Women in Ancient China. Back in the day, women had a low social status in society. The first part of the exhibition displayed tools from primitive societies. These pots and things didn't really interest me so I got through this part pretty quick. I did come across some good pictures though. The small sectIon on foot binding was interesting. The x-ray of the bound foot was pretty gross. I really feel for the women that had to go through this barbaric 'beauty' treatment. The shoes that they had to Wear were tiny. The Hall of Women in Modern China focused on how the women's liberation movement rose to popularity as women broke free from their bondage to feudal ethics. It was interesting to learn about some of China's prominent women in the past, as history tends to focus on the big male names. I learnt a little about Qiu Jin, who was a renowned democratic revolutionist and pioneer of the Chinese women's liberation movement, and Miao Boying, who was the first female member of the CCP. The artwork was pretty patriotic and showed women doing their bit to help liberate China. I then headed up to the fifth floor to the Hall of Women in Contemporary China. This charted how women's lives have bern during the PRC. One of the key concepts is the ideology that women are equal to men. I really liked seeing the picture of the women from the Yi ethnic group in their traditional dress and beaming radiant smiles. I lso liked the pictures showing the roles women played during the Korea War. The next gallery was the Hall of International Friendship. This displayed gifts that China has received from women's and children's organisations throughout the world. Having recently been to the National Museum, and seen all the gifts on display there, this was rather small in comparison. I headed up to the sixth and final floor. I first visited Into A New Era: The Developments and Achievements of Chinese Women. This had a lot of information about how the CCP continues to improvs China for women and the bigger roles women now play in society. The final exhibition wad Family Harmony Leads to Prosperity: A Theme Exhibition on Family Education and Family Traditions. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of EnglIsh accompanying this exhibition, so I wandered around it rather clueless. The museum was fairly enjoyable. I learnt quite a bit, but it was a little too patriotic for my tastes.

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