• News
  • Arts & Entertainment
0 Love It
Save it

A visit to the Field Museum's new "Cyrus Tang Hall of China"

A visit to the Field Museum's new "Cyrus Tang Hall of China"
Photograph: Martha Williams
"Cyrus Tang Hall of China" at the Field Museum

The first thing visitors to the Field Museum's newest permanent exhibition will notice is the large touch screens that act as labels for each case of objects on display. The "Cyrus Tang Hall of China" is a testing ground for some of the museum's latest technology, allowing guests to dig into detailed information about each of the 350 artifacts on display. With the tap of a finger, you can view additional details about each object, learn about the history surrounding it and (in some cases) interact with a three-dimensional model. It feels a little bit futuristic and slightly prone to "technical difficulties," but—for better or for worse—this is likely the way world-class museum exhibits will look moving forward.

Drawn from a collection of more than 40,000 objects, the "Cyrus Tang Hall of China" is a marked improvement over the Field Museum's previous presentation of Chinese artifacts, which occupied a few glass cases tucked away on one of the museum's balconies. The comparatively expansive permanent display (the largest of its kind in the U.S.) is divided into galleries that mark the nation's transition from its neolithic beginnings to the establishment of its feudal society and the rise (and fall) of dynasties.

Opening with a display of early stone tools and pottery that date back to 10,000 BC, the exhibit quickly establishes China as a civilization that valued both functionality and beauty. The exhibit really hits its stride when you arrive in the galleries devoted to artifacts derived from China's various dynasties, which began taking control shortly after the beginning of China's Bronze Age, in 2000 BC. It's here that you'll find an ornate imperial robe worn by a Qing Dynasty emperor and a 27-foot-long scroll from the 17th century that depicts the scene at a riverfront festival. 

Photograph: Martha Williams

 

A section devoted to religious artifacts is particularly enlightening, offering insight into Buddhism's arrival in China and the ways in which it coexisted with Daoism. Visitors can view beautiful sculptures of Buddhist and Daoist deities or watch a video of a traditional shadow puppet performance of the well-known Chinese story, Journey to the West. Walk behind the projection screen and you'll be able to view a synchronous video of a shadow puppet theater troupe performing the play.

Photograph: Martha Williams

 

The final gallery explores how China established itself as an international center of trade, exchanging goods like tea, ceramics, jade and opium through trade routes on land and at sea. The collection includes objects excavated from the Java Sea Shipwreck as well as selection of hand-painted snuff bottles, opium paraphernalia, pottery and ivory goods.

Photograph: Martha Williams

 

The exhibition ends in an indoor Chinese rock garden, featuring "spirit stones" taken from the bottom of a lake in China and imported to the U.S. Lined with benches and offering a view (through the windows) of Lake Michigan, it's designed to be the most serene place in the Field Museum—the perfect spot to contemplate the next exhibit you'll view or to simply take a moment to relax. 

Photograph: Martha Williams

Photograph: Martha Williams

Photograph: Martha Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: Martha Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertising
Advertising

Comments

0 comments