A Day at the Museum
Note – This was written some time ago, but I am just getting around to posting it now! Please, enjoy. ;)
Tianjin is a city that has a lot to offer. Last week we had the awesome experience of being guided by our new friend, Karen.
She took us to the Tianjin Art Museum and the Museum of Tianjin. We went to the Museum of Tianjin first, to explore some fascinating Chinese relics in addition to their current exhibit on Pompeii. The museum itself was a beautiful building with high ceilings and inspiring copper columns that gave the light a warm pinkish hue. (See, first picture).
On the second floor we weaved our way through a room of ancient Chinese ceramics and paintings. At this moment much of the cultural relevance is lost on me, however I can still appreciate the aesthetic qualities, and pure beauty of the craft. Listening to Karen express which artifacts were created in what dynasty added a better understanding of the context and age of many of the pieces. Getting to see her personal favorites was also pretty cool.
After admiring the artifacts we made our way to the Pompeii exhibit. Because we spent two weeks in Italy this summer, it was fun to see Italian culture with an eastern interpretation. The exhibit was pretty packed and although we were invited to the museum to see this exhibit specifically we spent less time walking through this area it than we did the historical Chinese wings.
After the first Museum, we went made our way across a beautiful courtyard with an enormous water feature and fountain. This block is home to three museums, and a performing arts theatre. We were going to the Tianjin Art Museum which was hosting a renaissance exhibit. (I suppose the day had somewhat of an unintentional Italian theme). The exhibit was nice, but similar to the first museum we found ourself more drawn to pieces of Chinese origin.
We winded our way through a large gallery devoted to devoted to contemporary Chinese painters and works of art. I found this area particularly fascinating, as the styles are different than what I’m used to seeing in museums at home. It’s especially interesting to take note that there are so many iconic symbols and colors that I wasn’t able to appreciate as the artists are influenced by their individual culture and subcultures. Regardless of this disconnect I still found myself energized and moved by the artwork.
Overall the afternoon was an enriching experience as we attempt to understand more about Chinese culture. The first museum gave us a taste of Chinese history, and the second a window into Chinese artists in the here and now. I definitely look forward to returning to these museums as I learn more about the culture and language here in China.
Because it was such a nice day we decided it would be fun to ride our bikes home. So, we unlocked a few share bikes outside the museum and went on our way. I’ve ridden sharebikes plenty of times, and quite enjoy the freedom it allows me to move around the city. However, this was my first riding with a local. There were a few moments that got my heart rate up as we weaved through Tianjin traffic. Thankfully I was able to keep up and we made it home in one piece. Let’s just say my Chinese cultural lessons were not limited to the arts that day.