ISSN: 20517041
First published in 2014
3 issues per volume
Volume 4 Issue 1: The World of Art Museums in China
Cover Date: March 2017
From context to subject: The poetics and politics of creating and exhibiting artworks in the National Museum of China
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Authors:  Tongyun Yin 
DOI: 10.1386/jcca.4.1.101_1

National Museum of China,Museum of Chinese History,Museum of the Chinese Revolution,artworks,cultural relics,aestheticization

Prior to its renovation and reopening in 2011, the National Museum of China, originally the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution sharing the same building structure, has been the official trustee and the authoritative voice of Chinese history since 1949. However, in the past five years, the Museum has significantly shifted its focus from history to art as the pace of the nation’s socioeconomic transition accelerated, a tendency summarized in its mission to transform the Museum into the “largest art and history museum” in the world. Based on the studies of the exhibitions held at the Museum in the past few decades, this paper examines the transformation of the exhibitionary practices of the NMC first through the lens of artworks created by official commissions in Socialist China and by reconstructing cultural relics into ‘Chinese art’ in post-Socialist China. Then, it analyses the altering interpretative narratives and presentational approaches used to exhibit artworks against the nation’s rapidly changing social-cultural and economic contexts. The article aims to analyse the changing roles played by art to foster and uphold shifting discourses to justify the Party-State’s political legitimation and promote cultural nationalism for nation-building. It further reveals how power, politics and ideology operate in exhibitions in contemporary China.
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