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Address from the Curator: Brilliant Chinese New Year’s Day, Beginning a New Cycle of 60 Years

It's time to bid farewell to the old and usher in the new. The year 2018 marks Chengdu Museum's 60th anniversary, which makes it an important year. The past 60 years were eventful, bearing witness to the museum changing its sites and door plates again and again. The history of the Chengdu Museum represents not only the growth of a city museum but also change and progress across the whole city, the persistent innovation of relic protection in this new China, as well as the continuous attention and constant support to relics and museology offered by the CPC and the whole country.

The sixtieth anniversary is important in Chinese culture—the culmination of a complete astrological cycle. The year 2018 marks the completion of a cycle, and 2019 indicates the beginning of another. Standing at this cusp between old and new and on behalf of all my staff, I wish all our friends and visitors, who have always been with us, a happy New Year, good health, fortune, and peace. Meanwhile, it is also an important moment for us to summarize our work and experiences over the past year and plan and anticipate the museum’s development over the coming new year. This is very important for Chengdu Museum and the people who care about it.

We take a broader view when life presents challenges. The advancements our museum has undergone have ushered us into a new era. Reform and development regarding cultural relic protection has been integrated into the overall strategy to deepen reform, which has established a higher demand for exhibiting and inheriting Chinese civilization. The museum has initiated research into how to effectively empower cultural confidence from heritage resources. In 2019, we shall regulate our own deeds with higher standards, and continue striving to turn Chengdu Museum into a world-famous museum. Our next step will be focused on the goal of our first-level museum application. I am confident that Chengdu Museum will become one of China’s first-level museums. Being a first-level museum not only represents official recognition of our overall strength and capacity, but also sets a clearer target and criteria for our future work.

As we all know, exhibitions are the most fundamental and at the core of what museums do, which opens the window for museums to interact with the outside world. Therefore, it has always been our principle to hold high quality exhibitions with international influence. Our exhibitions aim to have a variety of themes, including history, culture, folk art, cultural relics, overseas civilizations, contemporary art, and current hot topics, which we hope will develop into a complete exhibition system in which Chinese and overseas civilizations learn from one another, history is integrated organically with modernity, and permanent and temporary exhibitions complement each other.

In 2018, Chengdu Museum held 17 temporary exhibitions, including The Echo of Civilization: Ancient Treasures from Afghanistan which attracted a lot of public attention, Bronze Civilization in Qin and Shu Area, an annual original exhibition to coincide with the Second China Archeology Conference held in Chengdu, and the on-going special exhibition A Season of Good Rain: Forty Years of Reform and Opening Up in Sichuan dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening Up. More than 2 million people have visited our exhibitions annually and more than 6 million people have visited the exhibitions since our new venue threw open its doors and welcomed the public.

In 2019, we are planning a permanent exhibition Man and Nature: Donations from Kenneth E. Behring (tentative title) and 6 high-quality temporary exhibitions, namely, Resonating with the Times: Sichuan Oil Painting Invitational Exhibition, Serpentiform, The World Rejoices As One: Celebrating Imperial Birthday in the Qing Dynasty, Impressions of the Masters: Exhibition of Prints Collected in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University, Masters’ Craftsmanship: Delicate Handicraft Works of China and France, and Voice of Diet: Asian Food Culture Exhibition. I hope you will continue to enjoy our edification of knowledge and art from the exhibitions we hold here in Chengdu Museum.

Scientific research and exhibitions are both equally important to develop a museum. Only mature scientific research can lead to an excellent exhibition. In the past year, our staff published many papers across various publications. Meanwhile, we also had catalogs and monographs published, including Spirit of the Silk Road: Dunhuang, Qiuci and Maiji Mountain Grottoes, Afghanistan: The Crossroad of Ancient Civilizations, Historical Cultural Relics in Chengdu Museum, Paths of Modernity: French Modern and Contemporary Art Exhibition, Research on Han Inscribed Tablets of Tianfu, Research and Inheritance of Chinese Ancient Textile Culture, and Into the Brocade World: Exhibition of Chinese Brocade Culture. In 2019, we plan to initiate the Chengdu Museum Journal. Pioneering exploration along with our efforts, it is expected to be a cutting-edge, fashionable, and academic museum journal.

I strive so that Chengdu Museum can become a museum that holds high-quality exhibitions and initiates high-quality scientific research. I hope we may gradually develop our research findings with our own characteristics, and Chengdu Museum will occupy an important place among museums in China.

Furthermore, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to other museums and our peers. In the past year, without your help and support, our pace would never have been so rapid and steady.

At present, our priority is to continue to strengthen cooperation with museums in Sichuan Province and gradually increase contact and exchanges with major museums in China, including but not limited to joint exhibitions and academic activities, developing cultural and creative products, and joint project participation. We look forward to contributing our part to promoting China’s mission for relics and museology and help it prosper.

Internationally renowned museums or cultural institutions that we have already signed cooperative contracts with or are in the process of negotiating include: Kyushu National Museum, Tokyo National Museum, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Museums Victoria of Australia, Museum Director of the Federal Chancellery of Austria, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Haus der Musik of Austria, Albertina Museum of Austria, Van Gogh Museum, the British Museum, British Council, Natural History Museum, and British Library. We will maintain good relationships with them and continue to expand our cooperation.

During the past 60 years, generation after generation of museum staff have written stories of their lives and fulfilled their dreams in Chengdu Museum. From our arduous beginning to today's vigorous development, Chengdu Museum has been integrated into this city’s growth, becoming one with its lifeblood. It symbolizes the deepest cultural strength of the city and represents the most cutting-edge image that an urban museum should have in this era. While entering into our 61st year, we are willing to cooperate with all our visitors and friends to publicize Tianfu culture and inherit the Bashu civilization, to empower developing urban culture, and to pursue a better future for the city.

Li Mingbin, Curator of Chengdu Museum