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Suzhou Museum

Suzhou Museum

Brief Introduction of Suzhou Museum
Founded in 1960 and originally located in the national historic landmark, Zhong Wang Fu palace complex, Suzhou Museum has been a highly-regarded regional museum with a number of significant Chinese cultural relics. The new Suzhou museum designed by world famous architect I.M.Pei was completed in October 2006, covering over 10,700 square meter and located at the cross of Dongbei Street and Qimen Road. Not only does the museum become a monumental design building in Suzhou, but also a significant construction, merging the traditional Chinese architectural design with the future. It enhances the protection of Suzhou cultural heritages, and enables Suzhou Museum to turn on a new page.

History of Suzhou Museum 
In 1960, the museum founded and first open to the public in the former residence of the Zhong Prince of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Suzhou Folk Museum started to open in 1986 when that year is exactly the 2500th anniversary of Suzhou city's establishment and it is one of National Key Culture Relics Protection Units now. And the Folk Branch of Suzhou Museum is the first professional museum which specializes in displaying urban local traditions. The current new Suzhou designed by the famous Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei started in 2002 and completed in 2006. Interestingly, the location of the museum caused some controversy at the very beginning because some people worried that it would influence the entire ancient architectural complex and lead to disastrous consequences if something went wrong during construction.

What to see
Covering over 10,750 square meters, the museum is divided into three main areas -- the Center Area comprises the entrance, the hall and the garden; the West Wing covers the main exhibition area; and the East Wing houses the administration offices and exhibition galleries. The garden is one of the most stunning architectural wonders. Almost all of the Chinese elements, such as pavilions, bridges, bamboo, ponds, whitewashed plaster walls, fake mountains, etc, are present. It looks like a painting rather than a garden.

The design of the museum takes its cues from the rich vocabulary of Suzhou’s traditional architecture, with its whitewashed plaster walls, dark grey clay tile roofs and intricate garden architecture. However these basic elements have been reinterpreted and synthesized into a new language and order, one that is contemporary and forward looking and hopefully one that is a possible direction for the future of Chinese modern architecture, meeting the challenging design requirements of being not only “Chinese and Suzhou, but also contemporary and forward reaching”. Immediately upon completion, the building has been recognized as an important and successful precedence in the delicate balance of modern building design in the historical Chinese context.

The building is a dramatic fusion of traditional and modern architectural styles and houses over 30000 objects, most notably excavated artifacts, Ming and Qing Dynasty paintings and calligraphy, and ancient arts and crafts. Here are some famous collections.

1. Pearl Pillar of the Buddhist Shrine(Song Dynasty, 960-1280, Height: 122.6cm)
Found on the third floor of the Heaven Palace of RuiguangPagoda in 1978, the Shrine is made of Nanmu wood, consisted of a base platform, a house and a top. The Buddhist Shrine is elegant in shape, and extraordinary in design. It is an excellent combination of wood carving, drawing in gold, jade carving, pearl stringing, with fine art work in gold and silver. It uses a total of 40,000 pearls, a rare Buddhist artwork.

2. Silk tapestry with phoenix and peony design, hanging scroll(Song Dynasty, 960-1280, 66.8 x 36.7cm)
Silk tapestry, with the design of phoenix and peony, is a very unique artwork. It is used to reproduce the Chinese paintings in textile material. After the construction of the warp, the areas of colorsare separately woven into it. The raw silk is used as warp and processed silk as weft when weaving. Silk tapestry was very popularin Song Dynasty, but only a handful of work can be found today.

3. The sword of Fuchai
A bronze sword which is 58.3cm long and 5cm wide, owned by King Fuchai in Spring & Autumn Period. King Fuchai of Wu (reigned 495–473 BC) was the last king of Wu, a state in ancient China. There are ten ancient Chinese characters on the body of the sword show it owned by King Fuchai. The sword is still shining though made 2400 years ago.

Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple) is a Buddhist temple and monastery in Suzhou, China. It is located at the town of Fengqiao (lit. Maple Bridge), about 5 kilometres west of the old city of Suzhou. Traditionally, Hanshan Temple is believed to have been founded during the Tianjian era (502–519) of the reign of Emperor Wu of Liang, in the Southern and Northern Dynasties period.A sitting statue of Buddha is in the main hall of the Hanshan Temple. On each side of the statue there are nine gold-plated Arhat statues, each with a different facial expression. If you come to visit them, you will definitely be touched.

Opening Time: Museum Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm (Close on Monday)
Admission Free.(Charges may be required for some special exhibitions.)
Address: 204 Dong Bei Street, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China
Tel: 0512-67575666

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