Monday, June 27, 2011

REVIEW: Guangdong Museum (Guangzhou) designed by Rocco Design Architects

Guangdong Museum (Guangzhou), Sunday June 19

I have been going to Guangzhou for the longest time, but never really found the time to see the city. There was no impetus for me to do so until the much talked about beautification of Guangzhou for the 2010 Asian Games. So, a week ago, I deliberately went to Guangzhou to absorb some art and culture there. My first stop was the Guangdong Museum designed by the Rocco Design Architects. Irrelevant to the design but more to the administration of the museum, it was managed to be one of the most uninviting museums I have ever been to.

To get into the museum, one has to line up at the side of the garden (not the building) and wait as they only allow certain number of visitors every certain time interval (both of which depend on the whims of the loud security guards) . Once you are about to give up under the heat, they let you into the garden. Once in the garden, you should walk to the side of the building to line up for a free ticket. Note, there were very few people and one has to walk all the way to the back of the side of the building so that one can just walk back to the front of the building. Once inside, the first thing that I noticed was there were very few people and the place looked old as if it has been there for more than 10 years (when in fact, it was just a year old). It was poorly signed and the information counter was most uninviting. Non-working light fixtures, filthy glass displays (inside and out), water puddles on the floor and grimy windows were just the few things that made me wonder why the government even bother to have this museum. After all, these were basics.

Worn -out floor

The content was not impressive either. While exhibition flows were fluid and easy to navigate, they were not exactly made to be interesting. The one thing that came close to interesting was the things related to Guangdong, in particular the part about the culture and history. But then again, it could be just because the topic was more interesting to me than the stuffed dolphins and the whale skeletons. It was a mish mash of incoherent thing inside.

Water seepage inside the building

Architecture-wise, the lay-out was good, but then it is too big for what it houses. Above all, its biggest mistake is the color scheme: black and red. It made the whole place very dark, conforming to the dreaded stereotype of museum looking like mausoleum! I also can't help but notice that a lot of the materials sued were cheap looking and the finishes were just plain sad.

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