You’d expect most modern hotels to have a choice of restaurants, a health center, perhaps a swimming pool—but a museum?
The Westin hotel in the northern Chinese city of Xian hopes that time-poor guests, with little room in their schedules for a proper tour of Xian’s fabulous cultural sites, will instead be able to snatch an hour or two at the onsite Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts—a 7000 sq. meter space featuring rare porcelain, murals, statuary and other ancient objects.
The unusual hotel facility is the brainchild of Hong Kong-based developer Peter Kwok and Zhou Tianyou, a onetime history professor and retired curator of Xian’s sprawling Shaanxi History Museum, which houses hundreds of thousands of relics.
Both men share a passion for ancient Chinese art, particularly tomb murals. Their common interest has translated into Origins of Ancient Chinese Murals, a permanent exhibition of 85 mostly original murals at the subterranean museum. “There’s a lot of funerary art in this country, but no one place that properly charts its history and progress,” says Zhou.
The impressive, chronologically arranged collection spans fragmented, Neolithic age murals with barely discernible etchings to spectacular Tang Dynasty pieces that bear lucid, florid illustrations. It will be supplemented by up to three rotating exhibitions a year.
The Qujian Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is just under $20 for resident guests, who also enjoy the services of a bilingual guide free of charge. No time for Xian’s famous terracotta warriors and other historic attractions? Just make for the hotel basement.