Nantong Museum

Updated: Nov 30, 2018 www.chinaservicesinfo.com Print
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Nantong Museum

Address:19 Haonan Road, Nantong, Jiangsu province
Hours: Garden: 5:30-18:00 (April 1 – Oct 31, no entry after 17:30)
5:30-17:00 (Nov 1 – March 31, no entry after 16:30)
Galleries: 9:00-17:00 (no entry after 16:30)
Closed Mondays (except for national holidays)
General admission: free


If asked where China's first museum is, few people would answer correctly. The first museum of China was established in 1905 in Nantong, a small city in East China's Jiangsu province.

Set on the banks of Nantong's Haohe River, the museum was founded by Zhang Jian (1853-1926), nicknamed the "King of Nantong", a patriotic entrepreneur, politician, and educator.

Originally, the museum comprised three main buildings, set in the center, south and north of the complex and displaying specimens, historical relics and works of fine art. A botanical garden complements the galleries with plants and large exhibits, creating an exquisite, elegant and relaxing atmosphere.
In 1938 the museum was turned into a horse stable by the Japanese invaders, with the collections and the architecture largely destroyed. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Nantong Museum was restored to its former glory with collections substantially enriched and the architecture rebuilt. Today the museum’s collection exceeds 50,000items, covering historical relics, folk art and fossils. Historical relics mostly represent the local culture of Nantong from ancient times to the present day, while natural objects reflect not only the plants and animals in Nantong, but also across the country and the world. The museum continually expands its collections. In 1979 the museum acquired a skeleton of a 10-meter-long whale which had been stranded in shallow water near Nantong, and a few years later part of a meteorite that fell on Lüsi, Nantong, in 1982 joined the museum collection.

Permanent exhibitions feature history spanning more than a century, art masterpieces, the civilization, urbanization, and modernization of Nantong, as well as whale species found around the coasts of China. The former Nantong residence of the museum founder, Zhang Jian, was converted to a gallery dedicated to showing the contribution of Zhang to the development of the local textile industry and public education.

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