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China's Museum-Building Boom

Isabel Hilton reports from China on the boom in museum building and on the presentation of history. What story does one of the world's most ambitious new museums in Sichuan tell?

Isabel Hilton reports from China on the recent boom in museum building and on a growing interest in contemporary history. As people make more money and find more leisure time so China's cities have hurried to build more museums - a dramatic turnaround over the past 30 years. History itself is becoming the subject of a new breed of museums around the country, many of them privately owned. But what sort of history is being told here?
Isabel visits one of the world's most ambitious new museums, a huge cluster of museums built on a former army base in Sichuan by a local millionaire, Fan Jianchuan. Here some of the big topics of the 20th Century are up for re-evaluation including some, like the Cultural Revolution, that were previously considered highly sensitive. Isabel describes the impact of the 8-10 million objects from China's recent troubled past that are going on display in Sichuan and considers China's shifting relationship with its history and the way that it is displayed, taught and remembered in the popular imagination.

Producer: Anthony Denselow

First broadcast in January 2011.

Available now

45 minutes

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