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China's first private museum faces dilemma

08-16-2010 14:52 BJT

Most private museums have gotten into funding trouble

Due to urban planning, Jinnan Road in Zhangwanfen Village, Dashanzi area in Chaoyang District, is facing demolition. On July 21, the Guanfu Museum, run by the well-known art collector Ma Weidu is still standing alone in the midst of ruins that can be seen everywhere. Ma said that he is not uncooperative and he only hopes to consult with related government departments to find a new location for convenient traffic and with a good environment for his museum which has already moved three times.

Like a deserted island, the Guanfu Museum, also known as the Guanfu Classical Arts Museum, stands in the midst of ruins on Jinnan Road, Zhangwanfen Village, Dashanzi area in Chaoyang District, on July 21.

Like a deserted island, the Guanfu Museum, 
also known as the Guanfu Classical Arts Museum, 
stands in the midst of ruins on Jinnan Road, 
Zhangwanfen Village, Dashanzi area in Chaoyang 
District, on July 21.

The first private museum after the People's Republic of China was established, the Guanfu Classical Art Museum, was founded by Ma in 1996. Up to now, the museum has gone through 14 years and reporters found that as private non-enterprise institutions, private museums are always troubled with problems such as an embarrassing status, lack of funds, and operational deficiencies. Therefore, their operators all called for the introduction of a law related to Chinese museums as early as possible, to form a national unified museum access system for the management of museums.

On July 21, the Guanfu Museum, which is located on Jinnan Road, is standing in the ruins, looking like a deserted island. The roaring of the bulldozers gradually disappeared and visitors in groups of three or four brought vitality to the museum.

The tickets to the Guanfu Museum are 50 yuan each and have a total of five styles, designed as attractive as bookmarks. Entering the door, visitors can see seven exhibition halls in the 2,800 square meter area, which are the furniture, ceramics, doors and windows, photography, oil paintings, arts and crafts, and multi-functional exhibition halls. Besides the warm and elegant exhibition halls, the parlor, the study, and tea room are also available. "I hope the museum can provide visitors with a comfortable environment," Ma said.

Due to urban planning, the Dashanzi area will be reconstructed, including where the Guanfu Museum is located, and will be used as green space.

According to a security guard, the Guanfu Museum will be moved at the end of 2010. However, Ma immediately denied the fact and said that in the next three to five years, the museum will continue to stay here. "There will have three to five years of time before the museum is moved to a new place, so I will stay here until the new museum is established," said Ma.

Some media groups have labeled the Guanfu Museum an uncooperative institution. "We are not uncooperative and we never thought to resist against the government." Ma said that he stays here not for the relocation expenses but hopes to consult with the government to find a new location that has convenient traffic and a good environment for the Guanfu Museum.

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