China Three Gorges Museum, Yuzhong, Chongqing

Regarded as one of the largest museums in China, the China Three Gorges Museum opened its doors in 2005. The building is designed to reflect the natural features of the surrounding Chongqing area – the arc of the building represents the dam, the sandstone walls symbolise the nearby mountains and the blue veil wall reflects the water.

The concept for the China Three Gorges Museum originally developed in response to the construction of the man made lake that sits behind the Three Gorges Dam. Primarily built to hold the thousands of archaeological objects that were found prior to the flooding of the area, the themes within the museum expanded over time to include other important historical, cultural and scientific objects that told the story of Chongqing.

The museum is divided into four main themes – ‘The Splendid Three Gorges’, ‘The Very Ancient Ba Yu’, ‘The Urban Development of Chongqing’ and ‘The Anti-Japanese Days’. The last of these themes, ‘The Anti-Japanese Days’, explores the historical events that took place in Chongqing during the Anti-Japanese War in the 1930s and 1940s.

As the temporary capital of China throughout World War II, the Japanese Army bombed Chongqing repetitively for almost five years. Personal narratives, various objects and a 180° photographic panorama of the destroyed city allow visitors to better understand the events of the past and the horrors the local community experienced at the hands of the Japanese.

Recently in 2015, the Chongqing Archives Bureau and the Nanjing Archives Bureau prepared a joint exhibition for the China Three Gorges Museum. Titled the ‘Chongqing-Nanjing Anti-Japanese War Memory Exhibition’, the display included a series of rarely seen archival documents, photographs and maps that revealed the violence and destruction that transpired in both Nanjing and Chongqing, but at the same time highlighted the united resistance movement and overall victory of China over Japan.

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