Introduction

        Kunqu opera is China's oldest extant opera form, also one of the three origins of World drama. It was originated six hundred years ago at the end of the Yuan Dynasty around the Kunshan area in Suzhou. It became a well-structured oral art with perfect forms and sweet tunes after it was reformed by Wei Liangfu in the mid-16-century.With the collective efforts of many literary and performing artists , kunqu opera has become a comprehensive stage form with the elements of literature, drama, performance, music, dance and art, an outstanding representative of oriental art culminated with China's classical art and aesthetics. In its rich, strict, comprehensive and deep art system, kunqu opera has been honored as "mother of all operas" for it provides nutrition to China's various dramas. Its deep aesthetic tradition and oriental style has provided eternal attractions in its hundreds of years of history.

        The China Kunqu Museum is located in the Pingjiang historical and protective zone, the site of the former All-Shanxi Guildhall, a national level key cultural relic protection unit. The All-Shanxi Guildhall was built with the raised funds by the Shanxi merchants living in Suzhou, first in 1765 in Shantang Street outside the Changmen Gate, later in 1879 in Zhongzhangjiaxiang Lane. In 1986 the Suzhou Opera Museum was founded in the All-Shanxi Guildhall by the Suzhou Municipal Government and was opened to the public in October. On May 18th, 2001, kunqu opera was listed in the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritager of Humanity".In order to better protect and promote the kunqu opera art, the Ministry of Culture and the Jiangsu Provincial Government approved to found the China Kunqu Museum, which was opened to the public in November 2003.

        The China Kunqu Museum is the sole national museum that stores the precious classics and materials related to Kunqu and other operas, combines history, culture and art of kunqu opera, and aims at displaying, performing, storing, utilizing and researching the art to give an atmosphere of harmony and uniformity for kunqu opera that was originated in Suzhou.

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