Q & A: China Under Glass
Of the two hundred and fifteen sites that you and your co-authors visited, which did you find the most surprisingly satisfying?
Many of the museums were surprising—sometimes for their subject matter—such as the Tap Water Museum or the Tank Museum, but more often because our first impression of a museum was sometimes that it was run down and of little interest—but by the time we walked out the door, we were highly enthused and felt we had learned so much more about whatever that museum was about and also about what makes China tick. Many of these small museums have funding problems and still have Chinese signage only so that is a stumbling block for tourists. We usually had curators guiding us through and that made all the difference to the experience. We are trying to duplicate that with our book—by giving the reader the background knowledge they need to understand why a particular museum is important and then to guide them through the museum itself. The most successful museum experience is one where you come out having learned something you didn’t know before—and so many of China’s smaller museums are a real glimpse into China’s preoccupations.