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The red line: Creating a museum of the Chinese revolution

Authors Hung, CT View this author's profile
Issue Date 2005
Source China quarterly , (184), 2005, DEC, p. 914-933
Summary The establishment of the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, which opened its doors in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on I July 1961, the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, was a complicated political and cultural decision on the part of the Chinese government. The museum was never intended to be an artistic enterprise. Rather, it was conceived as a political institution to serve the interest of the Party. This article argues that the Party was ubiquitous in the building of the museum, exercising tight control through strict institutional means, especially through its Propaganda Department. Museum staff, under the close supervision of senior Party officials, sought to pursue an indigenous path different from the Soviet model. Staff members collected artifacts related to the Chinese Communist Revolution, commissioned historical paintings, arranged displays according to the historical framework stipulated by Mao Zedong, and, most important, struggled to instil in the museum the correct "Red Line," that is, the policy of the CCP under Mao's leadership. The article concludes that the museum was an intricate amalgam of political supervision from the top, official historical interpretations, strategic displays and a reflection of the internal Party struggle. The construction of the museum reflects the attempt by the CCP to control the collective memory of the nation and to monopolize the writing of history.
ISSN 0305-7410
Rights Cambridge University Press 2005. This paper was published in China Quarterly , v. 184, 2005, p. 914-933 and is reprinted with permission.
Language English
Format Article
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