Museum preserves hutong history

Updated: 2013-12-12 09:41

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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Museum preserves hutong history

The Shijia Hutong Museum is Beijing's first museum themed on one specific hutong.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Construction work started in 2011. Most of the bricks and ground tiles were collected from the neighborhood. The museum maintains the former structure of the courtyard, housing 10 gallery rooms and one multifunction hall used for interactive events such as lectures.

Museum preserves hutong history

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The interior decoration and exhibition display area has been overseen by the Chaoyangmen sub-district government.

"Seeing the museum develop is like watching a child grow," says Chaoyangmen sub-district office director Chen Zhijian.

The permanent exhibition covers general information about hutong, the history and photo archives of Shijia Hutong, the celebrities that once lived here, and the everyday life of the local residents.

In the main gallery room, a large model of the entire Shijia Hutong, recreated from an old aerial image, is the center of attention. Next to the model, a short documentary depicting some of the oral histories of the local residents, is played on loop.

Objects that were once used in daily life help to give a sense of the different time periods. All exhibits were donated by people living in the neighborhood.

Two rooms have been set up to depict a typical living room from a former time period. One depicts the 1950s to 1960s and the other the 1970s to 1980s. The rooms reflect the economic and social change over that time.

"Our museum is just a start. We will call upon the neighborhood to protect the hutong together, to make the entire hutong a museum, and to make every brick and every plant of it precious exhibits," says Chaoyangmen sub-district office director Chen.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and is free to the public.