New geological museum rocks the cradle of the Party

Updated: 2011-05-26 07:58

By Zhu Linyong (China Daily)

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 New geological museum rocks the cradle of the Party

Dinosaur exhibits in the Zhejiang Oriental Geological Museum. Zhu Linyong / China Daily

Lying between Zhejiang province's picturesque Hangzhou city and Shanghai is Jiaxing, a small city whose claim to fame comes from its legacy as the Communist Party of China's cradle.

Now, the waterside settlement has a new attraction - the Zhejiang Oriental Geological Museum.

Aft er three years of trial operation, the museum offi cially opened to the public early this May with the debut of a new exhibit - an 8-ton fl uorite ball with a diameter of 1.72 meters.

The privately funded museum is built with an investment of 250 million yuan ($38.41 million) from the Zhejiang Zhongcheng Group and designed with technical support from the Shanghai Museum of Popular Geological Science, curator Dong Lihua says.

It's believed to be the largest geological museum in the Yangtze River Delta, at more than 12,000 square meters. The establishment's nine exhibition halls display at least 12,000 geological specimens.

Among the eye-catching exhibits are fossils of an ichthyosaurus (a giant marine reptile resembling a dolphin), a pterodactyl (a large fl ying reptile) and primitive birds. Th ere are also a 48-meter petrifi ed wood trunk and a 9-meter encrinite sample made of the fossilized corpses of crinoids (marine mammals). And there are at least 300 varieties of mineral crystals, more than 1,000 classic rock specimens and more than 200 types of precious stones.

Th e museum has made a point of not baffl ing visitors with an overuse of jargon in its exhibits. It also provides onsite lectures and hands-on experiences.

"Th is is more fun," says 11-yearold Gu Tingting, who came with her parents.

Gu was able to see such specimens as rocks from 5,000 meters underneath the sea, stones collected from the Qomolangma (also known as Mount Everest in the West) and rough jade from the stones used to decorate the 2008 Beijing Olympics' medals.

And Gu learned about the Earth's history, the dinosaurs' demise and the might of volcanism through interactive games and 3D movies.

Th e museum has become a major science and technology education center for youngsters and part of a newly designed Pop Science Tourists Route of Zhejiang province, Zhejiang Provincial Geological Society secretary-general Zhang Zao says.

Since its soft opening in late 2008, the museum has received more than 650,000 visitors, 30,000 of whom are from Asia, North America and Europe.

China Daily


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