The French Priest Armand David first found the giant panda in Baoxing County, Sichuan Province in 1869. He took a panda fur back to Paris.
Pandas used to be widely found in China , however now they can only be found in the remote mountain areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Shanxi provinces with a total area of 13,000 square km.
Sichuan University Museum is a superb set of collections and themese housed in a non-descript building alongside the Jin river. It's just a few hundred metres from the River-Viewing Pavilion and its nice park. sadly, the museum has an irritating no-photography policy despite there being absolutely no rationale for this. Unfortunately my camera shutter went off accidentally while I was looking at some interesting exhibits.
There is no guide book although there is a photocopied sheet of paper providing some information. No matter, most of the well-lit and well displayed exhibits have a basic label in Chinese and English and some explanatory displays as well.
The top floor is not really worth the effort unless you have a particular interest in porcelain or calligraphy and have not had the chance to see the displays in bigger museums in Shanghai, Beijing or Nanjing.
The middle floor is a single L-shaped gallery on Sichuan's minorities, with some good - if simplistic and "China focused" labels, as well as a good range of traditional costumes. About the half the dispaly area is given over to Tibetans, but several other groups are well represented, including the Tujia, Qiang and Miao.
The ground floor has a whole range of objects:it's all a big mix but it's all also very interesting.
Down in the basement is the star attraction, with spectacular exhibits of sculptures and stone artefacts in one room (many from Sanxingdui - but none of the "treasures"); next to it is a very good display of archaeological sites in Sichuan. Sichuan University is one of the leading archaeological institutes in China.
For those specifically interested, the museum has an interesting history and the papers of Daniel Dye, the original benefactor of the museum are at Yale University and available for reading.
Contrary to what it says in a number of guidebooks and at a number of government websites and on official city maps (WHY DO THEY DO THIS!!!!!!!!), the Jinsha Relics are NOT open to the public. There is a brand new building (huge, expensive, state-of-the-art....the usual massive overinvestment in infrastructure) which the guards "think" is a museum. They weren't sure as they have only been working there four months and hadn't really noticed the huge building 100 meters behind where they sit in their hut.
"When will it open?"
"Do you feel that life is passing you by while you sit in your hut?"
"I don't understand your meaning"
"So that's a 'Yes' then......."
When, oh when oh when oh when will tourism and heritage authorities in China stop misleading tourists and visitors about attractions and sites? When will they realise that providing wrong information (and confusing "what will happen in the future" with "what you can do today") just angers people and leads to people making long unnecessary journeys?
It's a disgrace.
UPDATE: According to a Chengdu government website, the museum was FINISHED in June 2004 so why isn't it open. Have RMB200 million just been wasted??
'Jinsha' (pronounced 'Ching-sha') in Mandarin means 'Golden Sand'. This is the place to go if you don't have the time to travel to Sanxingdui Museum or you don't want to spend as much (van hire to Sanxingdui is 200 yuan). It is in the outer part of the city of Chengdu and you can take a bus or taxi. Entrance fee is the same - 80 yuan.
There is an on-site exhibit of the excavation site. 1-2 hours visit.
The museum is a 2-hour drive each way. You have to hire a van and you can go there after visiting the pandas in the early morning. If you take a bus, it will be a 1-day trip.
There are a number of halls to visit. Take along water and snacks unless you want to pay for over-priced ones. At least 2 hours' visit.
The exhibits are an eye opener because they aren't like any I have seen. A friend who saw my photos commented the figures and masks look alien-like, something like what is found in the South America. It was also only when there that I realized the Altar of Heaven for worship by past emperors of China actually resemble the pyramids.
Entrance 80 yuan.
We visited the jinsha Relic Museum on a dull, gloomy day, not expecting very much. But we were amply rewarded with a memorable tour of the relic site and the wonderful exhibition halls showing the relics and the ancient culture that produced them. The Museum is located just outside Chengdu's Second Ring Road. It was opened about one year ago, and complements the more-established Sanxingdui Museum.
If you have time: do visit this marvelous museum. In 1986 archelogists found impressive artifacts of an early chinese civilisation. This is on the same level as the Egyptian and Maya culture. The modern museum is in a park, a beautiful setting. It contains two main buildings. All the texts are also in perfect English. There are not many objects, but what is on display is good to superb. The masks are totally hot, as are the ' trees of life'.
We hired a car for the drive (400) and visited the monastary of ... on the way (5 rmb). It can also be combined with a trip to the panda breeding center (but we found the museum far more interesting). Warning: part of the road is awful!
There is a Chinese restaurant at the building next to the Chengdu Exhibition & Convention Centre which houses lots of traditional exhibits. You can have your meal there and enjoy the exhibits surrounding you.
The Sichuan Provincial Museum is the main museum of Sichuan, one of China's most important provinces. The museum is located in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital city, and houses a solid collection of antiquities (ceramics, jades, bronzes, etc.), paintings, historical exhibits, and exhibits about the Tibetans and Sichuan's other ethnic minorities. The museum covers three levels and will take you a couple of hours to go through all of the exhibits. We found it to be very user-friendly, with plenty of English-language signage. Admission is free, but you may be asked to show your passport at the ticket window.
The region's principal museum, this extensive institution houses more than 1,800 artifacts in two distinct categories. On the first floor, displays cover regional history from the Bronze Age to 1949. The second floor concentrates on the revolutionary history of China in the last 150 years.
HISTORY. To see the archaeology discoveries of a highly developed ancient town and kingdom in southwest China 3000 years ago, MUST visit The San Xing Dui (3-Star Pack) Museum .
There is a famous place underneath a fly-over in Chengdu which houses many historical items used in Chengdu. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the place. It is definitely worth a visit.