Wuqiang county, near the city of Hengshui city, Hebei province, is home to a New Year Picture Museum, China’s first, which got provincial Cultural Relics Bureau approval back in 1985. The museum covers an area of 25,000 square meters, with a floor space of 4,700 sq m.
The museum is also the largest of its kind in the world and was built in the style of dwellings nearby, with plants such as bamboo and lotus around it. It holds more than 10,000 New Year pictures and related materials from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, and many other cultural relics.
The museum has held three New Year picture festivals in its time and organized the China National Arts and Crafts Society’s 17th annual symposium on folk arts and crafts. It has hosted exhibitions of many museums, such as the Palace Museum, Nanjing Museum, National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum’s new venue, National Museum of China, and Shaoxing Museum in Zhejiang province.
It has taken exhibits to Singapore, Belgium, Spain, South Korea and other countries for cultural exchanges and gained a reputation abroad. In 1999, the museum was named a provincial patriotic education base by the provincial Party and government, and a key museum of Hebei and China.
In 2003, the museum became one of the national defense education bases and was named an AA national tourist attraction by the provincial tourism bureau. It has been frequented by 17 Chinese colleges and universities, such as China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Nanjing University, for education purposes and. In 2008, the museum held an exhibition for artists from South Korea, expanding its popularity and influence abroad.
Central China gets New Year Picture Museum
The Wuqiang New Year’s picture dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and reached its peak during the Ming and Qing as a localized colorful folk art that is much enjoyed by the public. Annual sales of the art can reach 100 million items.
It is based on agriculture as its subject and has a strong rural style, with diverse elements and sources. Some paintings depict a good harvest or a happy life, while others are meant to ward off evil and ghosts. Still others reflect daily life and teach people to be kind and hardworking. In 2003, the Culture Ministry designated the museum a pilot ethnic and folk cultural protection project. In May 2006, it joined the first group of national cultural heritage units and, in 2009, became a Grade-II national museum. It contains the history of Wuqiang New Year’s pictures and has been called the Dunhuang of folk art.