CHINA> Post-quake Tourism
Quake museum to open in SW China on anniversary
Updated: 2009-03-05 20:48

CHENGDU -- An entrepreneur in southwest China's Sichuan Province plans to open a quake museum on May 12, the first anniversary of the disaster.

Fan Jianchuan, 52, president of Chengdu Jianchuan Group, a real estate development company, stared silently at a half-burned, faded bridal veil Thursday. The 22-year-old bride died in the quake.

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The veil, together with 8,000 earthquake relics, will be on display at a 5,000 square meter museum in Anren Town, Dayi County, 40 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu.

"The veil was salvaged from a pond at the Yinchanggou Scenic Spot, Pengzhou City," Fan said. "They were taking wedding photos when the earthquake struck. We also found a gingham umbrella, a garland and a pair of shoes.

"They are witnesses to the disaster," he said. "While the quake left harsh memories, I want to tell visitors to cherish life."

Items on display also include a 330-pound pig that survived 36 days in the ruins of its sty, a motorcycle on which a man carried his wife's body home, a parachute soldiers used in the rescue, ruined concrete pillars and twisted steel bars.

Also on show will be diaries found from May 12 to June 12 and works of art about the disaster.

Fan invested 25 million yuan ($3.65 million) building the museum and it will be free to visitors.

"A nation must have its own memory. Relics record history. I want more people to remember the tragic moment," he said.

Before building the permanent earthquake museum, Fan built a temporary quake museum a month after the disaster in his Jianchuan Museum Complex in Anren Town, China's largest non-governmental exhibition center for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression relics.

The smaller museum, also free, displayed more then 5,000 quake relics, including a telephone Premier Wen Jiabao used in the disaster area, a clock pointing to 2:28 p.m. when the quake struck and ruined cars.