September 29, 2020

BY RYAN GOODYEAR

If there is one thing the residents of Kitchener need to do before March, it is to visit the downtown museum’s Treasures of China exhibit and catch a rare glimpse of the 1,000-year-old hand-carved statues.

Provided with an incredibly rare and exceptional opportunity, the Kitchener museum has been loaned 48 handpicked statues from the Dazu County in China. The statues represent a collection of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucius beliefs; and date back to the seventh and 10th centuries, with the oldest statue on display being around 1,200 years old.

The statues were hand-carved by monks and are in exceptionally pristine condition with eloquent designs; some even retain their original paint. They will be on display until March.

The exhibit also showcases numerous contemporary oil paintings where the artist has climbed the Dazu Mountains and painted there. These paintings focus more on the Buddhist aspect of the showcase, and some are so big they fill entire walls.

The museum has also recently signed a friendship agreement with the Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing. “It’s a city of 32 million people, and we have just finished signing a friendship agreement with them,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “They have loaned us 50 colourful prints and paintings depicting rural life in the countryside.”

The incredibly bright and eye-catching peasant paintings focus solely on Chinese folk culture and rural Chinese lifestyle.

Throughout the exhibit’s run the museum will be hosting regular programming to go along with the display including Buddhist ceremonies, dances, films and guest speakers. A more detailed list of what is offered is available on their website at THEMUSEUM.ca.

The staff at the museum are ecstatic about this unprecedented opportunity. After all, in the world of museums this deal has moved at lightning speed, with conversations starting in China only 14 months ago.

Marskell is delighted by all the support within the community and hopes the showcase will draw people in.

“This is over the top for us, and certainly punching over our weight, and I just hope that the community and those who read about it come and see it because it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Once it’s done here, it goes right back to China, you won’t be able to see it anywhere else.”