Bringing museums to life

Updated 2017-06-25 09:49:12 China Daily
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Chinese Aviation Museum in Changping district, Beijing is Asia's largest museum showing aircrafts relics.

Chinese Aviation Museum in Changping district, Beijing is Asia's largest museum showing aircrafts relics.

For the last 14 years, a Beijing company has been offering a ticket package that allows people to visit 110 museums in Beijing for free or with a 50 percent discount.

China has more than 4,500 museums, State-owned and private ones. And visiting exhibitions there is common for many Chinese. But 50-year-old Cao Wei says that many do not have fun during their visits.

Recalling a scene at the Geological Museum in Beijing he tells of a couple and their son, aged 7 or 8. He says that there were many beautiful displays there, but the son, after taking a hasty look at some ran away.

The mother wanted to teach the child about the exhibits, so she started reading the material on displays to him after bringing him back. But the boy fled again.

"The museum is not a place for you to merely learn and accumulate knowledge. It is a place where you can explore the world from different perspectives," he says.

For the last 14 years, Cao, the founder of the Borui Zhongtian Culture Development Co, has been offering a ticket package that allows people to visit 110 museums in Beijing for free or with a 50 percent discount.

Very few people can visit all 110 museums in Beijing, but the more important thing for Cao is for them to really enjoy their visits.

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Cao Wei works as a guide at China Civil Aviation Museum.

Cao Wei works as a guide at China Civil Aviation Museum.

"Some people try to use all the 110 tickets, but often they find it boring to just see items on display without understanding their value," he says.

"So I think that public education that teaches people to understand the exhibitions is important," he says.

In 2013, Cao started free lectures for museum-goers and organized free tours.

So far his company has given 64 lectures, which include talks on many different perspectives of Chinese people's lives in ancient times.

The company has also organized 190 tours to exhibitions not only in Beijing but also in provinces such as Shaanxi and Hubei.

One Friday in April, the company organized a tour to Beijing's Fayuan Temple to learn about the 1,300-year-old temple.

"We told the participants: Today we are here to learn how to see a museum, but our goal is not to make you experts on museums, but to keep your curiosity and the ability to explore the unknown alive," he says.

Then, after they learnt about the history of the temple, the participants were told to look for lilac flowers with more than four petals.

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Cao Wei works as a guide at China Science and Technology Museum.

Cao Wei works as a guide at China Science and Technology Museum.

"Lilac flowers typically have four petals, so if you can find five-petal lilac flowers, you find happiness. The participants were amazed to find two-, three-, five-, six-, and up to nine-petal flowers in the temple," says Cao.

Cao, grew up at the China Science Publishing House, which was previously the mansion of Prince Fu, Emperor Kang Xi's fourteenth son, and as a result has strong feelings about Beijing's heritage.

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