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The Opening Ceremony of “the Flying Stone” --Wanlin Art Museum
Author:Hanxu Wang  Date:2015-05-19  Clicks:

On May 9th, 2015, the day before Mother’s Day, outstanding alumnus Chen Dongsheng took his mother along to unveil Wanlin Art Museum in his alma mater Wuhan University. The art museum is funded by Chen and is named after his father. As the chairman and CEO of Taikang Life Insurance Co., Ltd, Chen Dongsheng donated 100 million yuan for the building on the Wuhan University 120th anniversary, and he also donated a batch of artworks worth about 30 million RMB. It has been Dongsheng’s dream to donate a museum to his alma mater. He remarked that many distinguished universities abroad own their museums, and this is what we lack in China. Chen was deeply moved when he once saw a group of sculptures by Rodin at Stanford University. He believed that we needed to build more museums to cultivate students’ humanistic spirit and nurture them into comprehensive talents.

As Chen Dongsheng handed over the golden key of the museum to President Li Xiaohong, the opening ceremony of the art museum officially began.  President Li made an enthusiastic speech in which he emphasized,“If comprehensive universities do not have museums, it should be considered lack of education. Having a great museum, such as this one, benefits not only students with art background, but also every staff member and student in general. They can come here and learn a lot. We will try our best to establish it as a world-class, Chinese top-level museum to serve the society. And we’ll also apply for government’s support, take social responsibilities and open for the entire Wuhan.” President Li also expressed high hopes on the development of our museum.


Wanlin Art Museum is located at the center of Wuhan University, between the new library and the central lake. Thus, Wanlin would be a center of teaching, scientific research, administrative management and a place for student activities. It’s also the center of the early university buildings and beautiful natural landscape. The art museum resembles a huge rock came from outer space. The visual effect is really amazing. Designed by the eminent architect Zhu Pei, it was in fact inspired by a life-affirming story of Chen appreciating a stone.

‘A road of a thousand miles begins with one step’on Luojia Mountain, and it intends to show the beauty of modern art. The modern style of the museum blends in with the ancient campus harmoniously. The museum covers an area of 8410.3 square meters. It is 78 meters long and 28 meters tall. It is a three-story building with a basement. Exhibitions and auctions can be held on the first and second floor. The café on the third floor offers a place for visitors to have a rest, and it’s expected to open soon. The basement will house historic relics from the School of History and the Department of Archaeology. Some of the specimens from the Specimen Museum will be moved into Wanlin to be put on display.

The inaugural exhibition held from May 10th to 28th is about Chinese modern and contemporary art since 1930s with Fusion as the title of the exhibition. The term  refers to nuclear fusion, but here it is the best presentation of blending arts and culture in social science. The collision of Chinese modern and contemporary art (the official’s promise for the arts and the artists’ exploration for the artistic practices) and two DNAs (Chinese culture and Western culture), show the transformation throughout time and the impact of individual events, ushered in the fusion of contemporary Chinese art into today’s artistic phenomena.

The exhibition is divided into three sections: oil painting, photography and media. Its aim is to briefly introduce the status of development of each medium and show the viewers “what the artists were thinking” beyond the limitation of time, through their experiments, and allowing the viewers to fathom the metamorphosis of an artist's inspiration into manifold dazzling representations.

As the picture above shows, there are some photos presenting scenes of student life in the 1970s, when the students were wearing white shirts, carrying olive drab bags, while checking some announcements on blackboards. Their clothing takes on the distinguishing features of that time, which may seem very different to the viewers these days.

Xu Xinyu, graduated from the School of Economics and Management in 2006, believed that Chen Dongsheng has set a role model for us young generations to work harder and repay our alma mater. A student being interviewed said  the art museum has added some artistic aspiration to the campus, and can cultivate students’ temperament.

There were long queues of people waiting outside the museum for a chance to visit the exhibits. Many photos and objects of the past give viewers a strong sense of history. Still, we are looking forward to seeing the future development of Wanlin Art Museum, and hoping to appreciate more exciting exhibitions here and develop our artistic sense.

( Photo by Xinnan Guo, edited by Diana & Sijia Hu)


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