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January 19, 2021

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Lest we forget: Honoring the past

The major upgrade of the century-old memorial for the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China, expanding the site from 1,000 square meters to 9,600 sqm, will be open in July to mark the centenary of the Communist Party of China.

The revamped memorial will include the former site of the Congress and the Bowen Girls School, where some of the delegates, including Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), stayed during the meeting, as well as a newly built memorial hall.

Work on the site in Huangpu District where the Party began in 1921 was completed in July last year. A trial operation will be launched in May, the city government said.

Both memorial halls have been done combining traditional techniques and modern technologies to preserve the century-old shikumen (stone-gate) buildings, while reinforcing them in keeping with the architecture of the surrounding Xintiandi area. Capacity will be increased to be able to receive over 1 million visitors a year.

The revamped facility will feature exhibition halls, a conference hall, visitor service center and other facilities.

Apart from the first National Congress in July 1921, many important movements were launched in Shanghai. President Xi Jinping and six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee visited the site on October 31, 2017, a week after the closing of the 19th National Congress.

Since then, the site has seen an increasing number of visitors every year, making it essential to expand the structure where the congress was held a century ago. There were 1.4 million annual visitors in 2018 and 2019 before numbers decreased sharply last year due to the pandemic.

The memorial was closed in November 2020 to give way to the expansion project.

A major exhibition about the origin of the Party will be the new memorial’s first exhibition after its grand opening. The “Great Beginning” exhibition will document the original aspirations and missions of the Party.

Over 1,000 exhibits, including 600 cultural relics along with photos, videos, oil paintings, sculptures and multimedia, will be displayed about the birth of the Party and the revolutionary practices in Shanghai. The memorial has gathered over 120,000 exhibits.

The site of the First National Congress of the CPC at 374 Huangpi Road S. was renovated in 1952. The renovation work on the row of shikumen houses in the Shudeli complex was completed early that year. The site opened to the public in 1968. The name of the site was written by former leader Deng Xiaoping.

An initial expansion work was completed in May 1999, with new structures resembling the shikumen houses of the 1920s. There was another major refurbishment and expansion in 2016 to commemorate the Party’s 95th anniversary.

Shanghai has preserved a total of 612 historic sites related to the revolutionary campaigns between 1919 and 1949. They include 497 former sites of key Party and government bodies as well as 115 memorial venues.

The city has also finished renovating the former site of the editorial office of “La Jeunesse” (The Youth), where the founding team of the Party was formed, and the former site of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee (1928-1931). Two exhibitions about these sites have opened to the public.

Renovation of the former site of the Party’s Central Military Commission was completed by the end of 2019. Preservation work is ongoing at the former site of the Secretariat and Special Branch of the CPC Central Committee.

The Shanghai’s People’s Congress plans to release a new regulation on the promotion and protection of these “Red resources” by July. The sites will have a uniform logo and a new online education platform.

The memorial for the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Jing’an District is also undergoing a major refurbishment and upgrade to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party.

For the upgrade, authorities are seeking cultural relics and exhibits related to the CPC’s movement in the city between 1921 and 1933 from the public.

The memorial was closed in November for the first phase of the renovation, which consisted of repairing the facade’s weathered walls and re-painting its wooden doors.

“Traditional materials and techniques are being used to fully maintain the historical appearance of the structure while extending its durability and expanding its functions,” said You Wei, deputy director of the memorial.

In addition to the structure, exhibits will also be upgraded.


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