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“Wàncuìlóu Museum: private collection that lacks focus and narrative”

HuangShan XueYuan HuiZhou WenHua ChenLieGuan
Reviewed 22 September 2017

N29°42'38.3" E118°18'04.2" (WGS-84) Amidst the Ming-dynasty vibe along Túnxī’s restored Old Street, this private collector museum is a mix between Huīzhōu architecture and a diverse antiques collection of Chinese art and furniture. To display the private collection of ceramics, painted scrolls and religious carvings over four floors, this former wealthy merchant house has been rebuilt in concrete. The Wàncuìlóu Museum has an open-air atrium that should give the impression of a pagoda standing next to the house and a fishpond on the ground floor.

In August 2017, we took a tour with an English-speaking guide, because the Wàncuìlóu Museum lacks English signs. The first thing we noticed from mandatory photos of Chinese dignitaries, that the owner is well connected. As party chief of Zhejiang province, Xi Jinping visited the house. You can sit in the chair of the now seventh president. The fifth president, Jiang Zemin, also visited the house. Many shops have old photos on display of the visiting Jiang Zemin. Occasionally, the owner and his family come from the south and stay on the top floor.

This is clearly a private collection, not with the visitor but with the collector in the centre. The focus is on collecting Chinese art and furniture, not on introducing the visitor to it and telling a compelling story. After the second floor, the higher floors offer the same experience. Displays of a table, two chairs, clock, vase and mirror go on forever. The balcony on the fourth floor offers a nice view on the Old Street.

For Chinese antiques experts, this private museum might offer a fascinating collection. For the curious visitor, there is always something interesting, like sitting on the chair of Xi Jinping. However, with so many private collectors, collecting more of the same results in less.

Thank goyourownway
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