Tipping your hat to a great historic day out

13:06, June 28, 2010      

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Tipping your hat to a great historic day out

Hats of Chinese and Western styles are on display at Shengxifu Hat Museum in Beijing. Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily
Some sights in Beijing are so amazing that you have to hold onto your hat or it'll blow away. The Shengxifu Hat Museum is one such place. Featuring exhibits from throughout China's long history, it opened June 8 and all displays are explained in Chinese and English, allowing access for both natives and expats. With the addition of videos and photographs, the museum comes to life for any visitor.

The best part? Admission is free.

"The museum was opened to celebrate the company's 100 years in the business," said Li Jiaqi, general manager of the Dongcheng district store. "I came up with the idea about three years ago. It celebrates Chinese culture. It is also for China's friends, such as Western hat makers and any hat wearer.

"Hat making in China has a 5,000-year history but there hasn't been a single museum dedicated to it yet."

Li said because Shengxifu has been in the business of hat making for so long, the company is able to achieve the ambition of opening such a museum.

A tour through the museum is not only a walk through history but also a perspective of style throughout the world. Though all the displays are replicas, each hat is crafted as authentically as possible, offering a glimpse at old and rare hats from different countries and decades.

There are nearly 200 hats on display that range from the style worn only in front of emperors, to modern-day pieces. Tools used to make the hats, such as spinners and curling shackles, are also part of the display.

The exhibits are visually pleasing, offering visitors a first-hand look at how the hat has evolved over time.

Straw hats that were made in the traditional Chinese style became more English as the company expanded into Europe.

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