Chinese museums take stab at Chinese Gen Z blind-box craze
Published: Sep 02, 2021 07:20 PM
Left: Cultural products inspired by relics discovered at the Sanxingdui Ruins 
Photos: IC

Left: Cultural products inspired by relics discovered at the Sanxingdui Ruins Photos: IC

As the blind-box craze continues to expand into industries such as high fashion, Chinese museums are now trying to capitalize on the trend with "archaeological blind boxes."

The attempt so far has been a hit among tourists, especially those belonging to China's Generation Z. Weighing in on the trend, Chinese experts say that these creative cultural products will help promote the traditional Chinese culture among younger Chinese. 

These "archaeological blindboxes" are just like those found at blind-box sellers like Pop Mart. But instead of things like jewelry or bubbleheads, the mysterious contents inside are models of real cultural relics unearthed from archaeological sites such as ancient coins, bronze and jade objects. These boxes usually come with instruments such as shovels, brushes, gloves and masks that visitors use to "excavate" the model relic from a block of clay. 

Song Hua, director of the Henan Museum's Cultural Product Department, told the Global Times on Thursday that they have been exploring various cultural products for many years, and the plan to produce "archaeological blind boxes" was first started in August 2019.

The move toward more imaginative and varied creative products has been a major trend in recent years.

"As of 2021, the Maritime Silk Road Museum of Guangdong has designed and developed 550 types of cultural products in 11 categories that target various consumer groups, covering chinaware, postcards, accessories and stationery," Luo Lichuang, director of the Cultural Product Department of the Maritime Silk Road Museum of Guangdong, told the Global Times.

"The archaeological excavations at Sanxingdui have achieved fruitful results such as a 2-meter-tall bronze statuette and a mask made of gold. The original intention of the archaeological blind boxes at the Sanxingdui Museum is to invite the public to experience the enjoyment of the archaeological excavation," Lin Wei, an employee from the Sanxingdui Museum, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"We can sell more than 100,000 blind boxes a month, thousands a day, and we have received a lot of feedback from young customers who often give us some advice and help us a lot to improve them," Song said, pointing out that about half of these customers are male. 

"Many young customers buy the boxes for their elders." 

"Cultural products like archaeological blind boxes are new attempts to bring the traditional culture to 'life.' They combine cultural relics with popular trends, which can narrow the gap between cultural relics and young people's favored objects in a way that meets the needs of the market and the interest of young people," Wang Li, director of the Chengdu Museum, told the Global Times.

Chinese authorities including China's Ministry of Cultural and Tourism in mid-August issued a statement promoting the development of products at cultural heritage institutions. 

"The cultural products at museums have been endowed with a deeper cultural meaning, and we hope tourists can learn more about the traditional Chinese culture from various cultural products," Zhang Yuancheng, curator of the Shanxi Museum, told the Global Times on Thursday.