Monday, March 2, 2009

Shenzhen Museum of History in the Shenzhen Civic Centre

Image of the Shenzhen Civic Center, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.Dear Gentle Reader,

Truth is not always black and white. It is not even yellow or white, like it should be with eggs.

Regarding the previous post, I strongly note that very few eggs in China are fake, none have been found in Hong Kong (to date), and most egg dishes in China are fantastic.

From tea eggs to tomato eggs to thousand year eggs (sticking with literal translations of the Chinese names), I eat them all. Happily and with aplomb.

Yes, China has many challenges.

When you have over a billion citizens, some will be scamsters.

China also has many triumphs, like lifting over 400 million people out of poverty that we have looked at in a past posting.

Put into perspective, China has lifted, internally, the entire population of the USA with almost every man, woman and child in Germany thrown in, for good measure, out of poverty. That is truly a triumph. Yes, there is much more work to be done, but to ignore that heroic achievement is not fair to the Chinese state's achievement.

Today, another triumph.

Today's title image is of Shenzhen's Civic Centre.

With a 91 thousand square meter footprint (979,524 square feet) and 210 thousand square meters of floorspace (2,260,440 square feet), this is a big building.

The roc is Shenzhen's symbol and the Shenzhen's Civic Centre's soaring roofline is meant to be evocative of the roc's mythical wingspan.

Many feel that Shenzhen's Civic Centre architecture also hearkens to Tang dynasty architecture (618-907 AD ... with a brief break from 690-705 when Wu Zetian seized the throne to briefly usher in the Second Zhou Dynasty... China's only official female leader, but I digress).

The title image was snapped from a bus, two blocks away, with a couple of skyscrapers in the background and some people in the foreground for size comparison.

Shenzhen's Civic Centre's architect was Li Mingyi and it was built by the Shenzhen QiXin Construction Group Co., Ltd. (see their website archive here for more images of it...) and finished in 2004.

Image of the Shenzhen Civic Center, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.But your Heroine and I came for something even newer, that we found in a small corner....

With a tiny footprint (45, 800 square meters or 492,991 square feet...) the Shenzhen Museum of History opened up on Christmas day, 2008.

This museum is fantastic, and fantastically new.

On various floors, the museum explores ancient Shenzhen, modern Shenzhen, Shenzhen folk culture, the history of Reform and opening up (of China's economic and political policies) in Shenzhen (far more interesting than you might believe on first reading that description...), and it has a floor for traveling exhibitions.

There are many aspects to Shenzhen that will be discussed in future posts (why and how, for example, a rural hinterland became one of the biggest cities in China, the absolute wealthiest city in China, and the city with the highest income per capita in all of China).

The fact that there is an excellent museum though, that has just opened (and is free!) is something worth celebrating here.

Right now the travelling exhibition is on bronze castings from China's past.

Let me telescope outwards on one here...

Close up of a Chinese bronze casting

Close up of a Chinese bronze casting

Close up of a Chinese bronze casting

Close up of a Chinese bronze casting
I will let the images speak for themselves; this is a museum well worth visiting.

As an older "China Hand", I think that culture and history gaining renewed emphasis... in a positive light, after the dark years of the Cultural Revolution... is wonderful.

It is true that there are still impoverished people in China, but culture is for everyone, rich and poor. And China is making efforts to continue combatting poverty.

I firmly believe that studying, or even just observing, culture is a way to appreciate differences which, eventually, builds tolerance to differences. It can also lead to greater sensitivity to those who are less well off.

The existence of this museum indicates that values are changing.

Everyone who visits this site knows that your humble scribe enjoys talking, and I will, but later in this week and in the weeks to come.

To get to Shenzhen's Civic Centre, from Hong Kong, take the KCR subway/train line to Lok Ma Chau and go through the border crossing (you need a China visa to get in).

On the China side, take Line No. 4 of the Shenzhen Metro and get off at the third station for the Shenzhen Civic Centre.

Cross the road and aim for the massive flying wing on the other side of the street.

Enjoy the town.



debra said...

The castings are wonderful, and then you get an idea of the scale. Amazing. Thank you for another look at your town. Some day I shall travel...

Jenn Jilks said...

Amazing piece, isn't it!

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a glorious building to house such an interesting past.

Junosmom said...

I'm a dork. I'm sitting here wondering how China did this:
"Put into perspective, China has lifted, internally, the entire population of the USA with almost every man, woman and child in Germany thrown in for good measure out of poverty. "

Dh explained - the equivalent numbers were raised. Okay. Now I feel dumb this morning!

Many people here worry about China lending money to us, and the deep hole we are digging for ourselves.

Travis Erwin said...

Interesting sites for this week but on the subject of eggs I try no to eat things that fall out of chicken's buts.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I envy you living there Chris. I agree with you that China has lifted its population out of poverty.
My first husband lived in Shanghai from 1938 to 41 and used to tell me terrible tales about the poverty and deprivation. He used to speak of dead babies in the drains and terrible hunger. When I went to China with him in the 1980's he was overjoyed at the changes that had been made.

Barbara Martin said...

Wonderful casting, and an interesting post.

Heidelweiss said...

Some of my parents best friends are living in Hong Kong right now and Steve and I had HOPED to be able to visit while they are there. I'm afraid you have given me too much to see and all trips to Asia are now cancelled ;).

Heidelweiss said...

apparently I have a LOT of parents :}


Interesting notes, this bronzes exibition is something new to me

Sepiru Chris said...


You are more than welcome for the glimpse inside. I found the bronzes utterly fantastic.

Jenn Jilks,

It is!

Patti Nase,

Fabulous architecture, I utterly agree.


Next post will be on secret hydraulic systems of China... :) Actually, I could write a post on that with reference to the Qin Emperor, the first Emperor of China. Hmm. Maybe after my next trip to Xi'an...

The thing about China is the omnipresent sets of dichotomies. Like wealth to build fantastic new buildings (all in the last 10 years) and, now, things like museums, whilst there is simultaneously, still, great rural poverty and migrant worker poverty that needs to be ameliorated.

And America's spending and savings levels both need internal adjustment...


I don't think I would last long on your diet, Travis! No eggs, no vegetables... cheese, grain, and meat... hmmm. Ah well, the ranchers will love your diet, right? Long live differences!

Weaver of Grass,

He would have been shocked by the changes from the 80s to the 90s and again from the 90s to now. Parts of Beijing and Shanghai put London and Paris and Chicago to shame... It is utterly astonishing, especially when you return after an absence. Continual, iterative renewal and development.

That said, a pastoral life is not to be found here... At least not a bucolic, pastoral life...

Barbara Martin,

Thanks Barbara, it's a bit skimpy this week, but I am just swamped... I haven't even visited anyone yet, I am sorry to say.


:) Well, I think that you and your chief Counsel still ought to visit. All trips are off... *snort* *mutttering, such foolish talk needs to be nipped in the bud, I thought she was an anglophile...*


The bronze exhibition is pretty astonishing. I will go back before it rotates out to take more detailed photos of the some of the castings as they are quite remarkable...

Tschuess all,

SweetTalkingGuy.. said...

Hi Chris, informative post, my son and his mates were over in China at Christmas but some of the other Manchester bands weren't allowed in Noel and Liam and Oasis have also had their visas cancelled this week for speaking up for Tibet, anyway!!!