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Decentralization and democratization in Chinese exhibition design 

There is an unbalance distribution of aesthetic education opportunities between larger cities and underdeveloped areas in China. Taking Shanghai and Beijing as examples, museums in the larger cities consume most of the art educational resources. People who live in rural or small towns hardly have any access to the arts, making the aesthetic gap larger between cultural centers and cultural deserts.

This thesis proposes a new exhibition system that builds a series of accessible and sustainable exhibition structures in China to narrow the educational resources gap and synchronize cultural curriculum among different places. By taking the exhibition spaces out of the museum and bringing them into four underdeveloped areas that lack cultural amenities: Qingdao, Handan, Yongshou, and Nuodeng, the sanctification of the arts will be weakened through decentralizing and democratizing the cultural centers.

The project was inspired by a burr puzzle, an interlocking puzzle consisting of notched sticks in ancient China, to design the configuration of the exhibition’s structure. The structures will be assembled as a cube and transported easily by a truck. Each piece has a different shape and it could be combined into groups or exhibited by itself. This exterior exhibition won’t display any original artworks, but use augmented reality and holograms to show virtual images. The gap of principal structures will be filled by tiny cubic seats made with local materials, which will offer regional characteristics to the public and recall nostalgia for people who are standing on this land.

Site research & Concept

Based on the characteristics of the Chinese Museum listed in the mapping to the right, this cultural installation has a new form of the museum exhibition - all museums, large or small, will refocus their purposes on the culture and art aspect instead of the political side. China apparently needs more such museums for the general public to serve as platforms for aesthetics and education.
Moreover, the museums will distribute more evenly across different regions of China, regardless of the area's economic status.
In this way, every citizen has the opportunity to appreciate both the traditional and the modern facets of a broader cultural landscape.

Exhibition circulation among four cities

Assembling method for the exhibition structures

Inspirated by Burr Puzzle in Ancient China
To better explain the concept of decentralizing cultural resource, we choose four distinct places in China as the sites for the design proposal, which are: a second-tier coastal city Qingdao, a third-tier industrial city, Handan, a village in the Loess Plateau named Yujiagong, a tribal society with old-growth forest called Nuodeng Village.

The structures will be assembled as a cube and transported easily by a truck. Each piece has a different shape and it could be combined into groups or exhibited by itself. As the gesture model shows, they are free to be separated and regrouped together, depending on different exhibition themes and different locations.

Gesture models

Typology of Exbition Structures

Structures for three groups of exhibition

Materials | Exhibition structures for Andy Warhol

Cultural Installation | set 1-3

Culture and arts are only concentrated in the most developed areas due to the improper allocation of resources, whereas second-and third-tier cities and rural villages lack their fair share of culture and arts, becoming the so-called "culture desert".

In an era of the growing disparity in resource allocation, we desperately need this kind of modular exhibition to delve into the deep rural of the country to convey arts, history, and culture to the general public.

To preserve the uniqueness of each place and the sustainability of the environment, the architectural material in this series of exhibitions will be adapted to the abundant goods and architectural property locally. Moreover, we shall design our exhibition to be more flexible and transformable, in order to adjust the exhibition space and style according to the its content.

Aside from introducing foreign collections, all exhibitions around the country will have a special part tailored locally. Using the urban-design method of acupuncture-style exhibition, people will be able to receive aesthetic and cultural education.

The concept of Cultural acupuncture is to use the exhibition space as needles in the countryside to heal the spiritual pain for those who rarely have the chance to immerse themselves in art. Modular exhibitions will no longer make limited original art works go through the troublesome of physical migration in order to rob Peter to pay Paul, but effectively use artificial reality, hologram, and other modern technologies to carry out cloud transportation. The culture desert will no longer be desert anymore, and oasis will be spread across China.

Postcard for exhibition with augmented reality

As part of products for the exhibition, there are three series of postcards, 4 pieces in each serie and 12 pieces in total. Visitors could use their phone to scan the QR code or take a photo with the postcard. They would see a virtual model of the exhibition structure on the phone and experience the virtual activities with augmented reality. When visitors go back home, they could also use their phones to revisit the exhibition. This also benefits the disabled people which couldn't have a physical immersive experience, such as climbing into the exhibition tube, instead they could use augmented reality and virtual reality to gain a better experience.