Millionth visitor checks out CPC exhibition

The art exhibition "From Shikumen to Tiananmen," running at China Art Museum since last October, welcomed its 1 millionth visitor today.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Visitors admire a painting at art exhibition "From Shikumen to Tiananmen" at China Art Museum in Shanghai on April 3, 2018.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Chen Zheng (center), a CPC member working in a local public property management company, becomes the 1 millionth visitor to the exhibition “From Shikumen to Tiananmen" at China Art Museum in Shanghai on April 3, 2018.

A Shanghai exhibition showcasing the 96-year history of the Communist Party of China welcomed its millionth visitor today.

“From Shikumen to Tiananmen" opened to the public at Shanghai's China Art Museum in October last year.

The lucky millionth visitor was Chen Zheng, 41, who was presented with a crystal souvenir, a commemorative album and an invitation to the special program of the 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival this October.

Chen is a CPC member working in a local public property management company. He said he was much impressed when he first visited the exhibition with colleagues two months ago.

“Having the 96 fine art works tell the 96 years of CPC history gives the exhibition strong visual impact," he said. "I had planned to come again before the exhibition closes on April 15, but I did not plan to be the millionth visitor — it's such a surprise!"

The exhibition, as the fruit of a comprehensive art creation program in Shanghai themed “From Shikumen to Tiananmen”, was first opened to the public during the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival last year. 

The artworks, created by artists at different times, were selected to help tell important moments of CPC history such as its birth in Shanghai, the Long March, the liberation of Shanghai, the founding of People’s Republic of China and the CPC leading the people in the nation’s revival.

“The number of visitors largely exceeded our expectations in the first place. It is rare for a single exhibition to receive more than 1 million visitors, but ‘From Shikumen to Tiananmen’ just did,” said Wang Jun, president of the Center for Shanghai International Arts Festival, a major organizer of the exhibition. “It enlightened us about making more creative art works that meet the people’s needs.”

To help visitors better understand the history through art works, volunteer guides explain significant exhibits on site. During peak days, each volunteer needs to explain all the exhibits more than twice a day.

Gao Xiaomei, a 67-year-old retired teacher, has been working as a volunteer guide at China Art Museum for years. “From Shikumen to Tiananmen” is one of the exhibitions with the most visitors since she began working there.

“Numerous people come every day, especially after President Xi visited the Site of the First CPC National Congress in Shanghai last year,” said Gao.

The exhibition was so overwhelmed with visitors from all over the nation that it was extended twice at the request of the public.

Museum staff say the exhibition has witnessed an increasing number of visitors recently, probably because of its approaching close.

“I think people like it because they feel more connected to the history through visual arts than black text,” said Gao. “Many of the exhibits here largely redisplay the scenes of history with the artists’ careful study. And with their creations, visitors can see details like what the heroes were wearing and what their facial expressions said, which they may not get through text documents.”

Oil painting “The Road of Long March,” by Shen Yaoyi, is one of Gao’s favorite exhibits. It is one of Shen’s Long March series for which he personally traveled the Long March Route five times since 1975.

“The Luding Bridge with only iron chain and enemy gunning, the grassland with no food but invisible swamps, and snow-covered mountains with unpredictable weather… it is just hard to imagine how the Red Army soldiers made it,” Gao said. “I heard about the stories when I was young, but it is more shocking to see it through the paintings.”

To explain the artworks better, Gao herself undertook extensive research on CPC history through books and documentaries, and she tries to share as much as possible with visitors.

“I sometimes could not stop my eyes welling up when talking about villages emptied of all their young men who joined the Red Army and never came back. Some visitors shared similar understandings with me that it may just be the power of faith,” said Gao.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Visitors admire a painting at art exhibition "From Shikumen to Tiananmen" at China Art Museum in Shanghai on April 3, 2018.


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