Former Dutch Embassy Reopens As NanJing Republican Map Museum
2017-11-24 11:28:00

Often the best moments living in a city such as Nanjing occur when we get to step into another world that is literally a few metres off a main thoroughfare; a secret to which it feels we alone are privy.

So it is at the former Dutch Embassy, reopened on 18 November as the Nanjing Republican Map Exhibition Hall. Easily mistaken for the hideaway of a lauded, but reclusive, poet, access is only granted after brute force has been applied to the unmarked steel gate, kept shut we presume, to stop the cat from wandering onto the street.

Awaiting on the inside, a small but veritable treasure trove of maps from Nanjing’s Republican era. Adorning the walls, visitors to the exhibition are treated to nine maps of China and the Nanjing area in particular, varying by type and all published between 1926 and 1949.

Most striking, and given pride of place in its own vestibule, is the map of the proposed China railway system, hand drawn by Sun Yat-sen, and bearing anuncanny resemblance to today’s high speed train network. Then there is a Japanese military map charting their troops’ advance on Nanjing, plus another of Nanjing’s topology, in detail and by far the most advanced at the time. Therefollowa map of all of then China, prior to it resembling a chicken, on account that Mongolia was included, and one of the entire world, produced by the Shanghai Port Talbot Dispensary and given away free with any purchase of their pharmaceutical products in Nanjing.

The building itself is also worthy of note; with its exquisite Chinese-style roof, accompanied by elegant tiling, an unusual choice for the architecture of a foreign embassy but one that was chic at the time. Editor:Hiram