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Beijing Guanfu Museum

By china tour on 12/17/2009 5:00:00 PM | Beijing Tours

Ma Weidu, the Founder of Guanfu Museum, is one of the eminent antique collectors in China. He makes a big step to open the first private museum in China's mainland. One of the important characters of Ma is his spiky white hair and high-pitched laugh, which can be easily recognized by the people. He radiates pride mentioning some of the famous visitors to his museum and expresses his feeling to the people who visit his museum. Ma is the guest lecturer on China Central Television's Lecture Room, which makes him to be well known by the Chinese people, especially the antique collectors. He used the simple words to express the history of the antiques and teach people how to distinguish the real items. Ma was born in 1955 in Beijing. And in 1981, he was employed by the China Youth Press after his short story "Full Moon Tonight" published in the China Youth Daily and began collecting porcelain, traditional Chinese furniture, jade, lacquerware and metal-ware since then. In 1992, Ma published his first book Ma Shuo Taoci (Ma Talks Porcelain), which was hailed by readers as an ideal introduction to traditional Chinese culture. He opend the the Guanfu Classic Art Museum in Beijing, the nation's first private museum of classical and antique art in 1997 and established Guanfu Branch Museums in Hangzhou in 2002 and Xiamen in 2005. He simply re-named the "Guanfu Classic Art Museum" to the Guanfu Museum in 2007. Then, he published his five-volume series Ma Weidu talks about Antique Collecting: Furniture, Porcelain, Jade and Miscellaneous Other Ariticles.
Established as the first private, non-profit museum in China, Guanfu Museum has been known as a home of cultural relics collection over the past 12 years. People are fascinated not only by over one thousand extraordinary pieces of art, mainly made in the late Ming and Qing dynasties, but also by its founder Ma Weidu, a well-known antique collector in China. Approaching the site of the museum, you can see the rows of flat shabby houses in Beijing's eastern suburb of Zhangwanfen, but quickly refreshed by the setting of the building - It draws heavily on Chinese architectural influences and has turned the sleepy district into another tourist attraction. The museum is one that well combines art appreciation and historical studies. The building of Guanfu Museum covers an area of 3000 square meters, and is divided into seven departments, namely ancient porcelain, classic Chinese furniture, works of art, oil paintings, classic doors and windows. The exhibition on Chinese porcelain includes about 140 elegant pieces from 10th to 18th century (Tang to Qing dynasty). Each one is a masterpiece that combines artisan intelligence and hard-work, while the porcelain vase with floral panels made in Qianlong era of the Qing dynasty attracts much attention.

The furniture department comprises four parts according to differing structural timber which are mahogany, Zitan wood, Huanghuali wood and Jichi wood, each of which are valuable woods representing high social status. In the early Qing dynasty, using the valuable wood furniture had come into vogue in the society. In traditionally arranged rooms and studies, I can smell the flavor of classic furniture as well as gain the concept of the arrangement of each room. The furniture tells of rich Chinese tradition and history. For example, it may seem to be an ordinary setting to place two vases on each end of the table, but Yao tells us the meaning is a blessing for safety, in Chinese, 'Ping Ping An An'. 'Ping' and 'An' together have the same syllables in Chinese as 'safety'. Each piece of furniture has a unique story behind, making the intelligence and fine technique of ancient artists more admirable. In the doors and windows department, you will surprisingly found that all rooms are separated, not by walls, but by partition doors and rails which well demonstrate the pattern and rules of traditional room setting during the late Ming and Qing dynasties. I never knew that the design of the wood windows also had deep meanings related to Chinese Fengshui. The most impressive one has to be the partition doors with episodes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and antique motif, in which the marvellous technical carving has gained world-wide acknowledgement. In the oil painting hall, famous contemporary Chinese artists showcase their works, including oil painting and sculpture. Prestigious artist Chen Yifei's painting Violin, Cello, and Chen Danqing's Inamorato are also among the exhibits.