The Kunming City Museum is a historical museum and one of the popular tourist attractions in Kunming City, which is encompassed by the Yunnan Province in China. The museum is quite comprehensive for a local museum; all in all, it occupies an area of 5,000 square meters.
Although smaller than the Yunnan Provincial Museum, it attracts a lot of visitors thanks to its many notable exhibits. Some of these are repeats of what can be found in the provincial museum, but it has several unique offers of its own, including a historical exhibit offering a glimpse of the city’s history.
Most Notable Exhibits
The Kunming City Museum offers plenty of interesting, must-see exhibits, such as its impressive Bronze Culture exhibit. The collection features all sorts of ancient bronze drums from the oldest to the newest castings, so visitors can follow the evolution of the typical drum decorations, which feature sun and frog designs on top, tiger handles, and boats bearing long-plumed warriors on the sides. This collection looks back at the Bronze Age culture of the Dianchi District.
Another exhibit is dedicated to the city’s Dian culture, which occupied the area from 400 BC to 100 AD. It features a scale model of the city’s whole territory with all Dian archeological sites pointed out.
Plenty of other historical art pieces are also highlighted, including two dioramas of Kunming in the Ming dynasty and Kunming in the modern time and original Chinese accounts of the voyages of the famous Ming eunuch admiral, Zheng He.
There is also a dinosaur exhibit featuring five fossilized dinosaur skeletons which were all found in the Kunming area. These include an allosaur (which resembles a tyrannosaurus) and a rather bulky Yunnanosaurusrobustus. The exhibit also includes a Dilophosaurus sinensis, which dates back to the early Jurassic Period and is characterized by two bony crests on both sides of the skull. This is another must-see because it is one of only three of its kind that have ever been discovered, and because this kind of dinosaur is very rare in Asia.
The Dali Sutra Pillar – The Highlight of the Museum
The Kunming City Museum is also the home of the Dali Sutra Pillar. Found on the ground floor, this pillar is an astounding pagoda-like sculpture from the Song dynasty. It is 6.5 meters high and is made with pink sandstone. The pillar is made up of seven tiers full of images of Buddha and statues of guardian gods perched on subjugated demons. The pillar is then filled with a mixture of Chinese and Tibetan script, including what is known as the ‘Dharani Mantra’. On top of it is a ring of Buddhas carrying a ball above them; this ball is believed to symbolize the universe. At the bottom, the pillar is supported by an octagonal base.
The Dali Sutra Pillar was originally erected by the Dali regent, Yuan Duoguang, who dedicated it to the memory of his general Gao Ming. It used to be part of the now defunct Dizang temple. It is considered as a powerful work that reflects much of the authentic energy that used to surround ancient Chinese sculptures.