Special Exhibitions

Companion — Special Exhibition for the Year of the Ox 2021

This exhibition, based on the characteristics of the Shanghai Natural History Museum, uses questions to guide the audiences and leads them to explore the relationship between the ox and humans in the past millions of years. On the theme of "Ox and Man Are Companions", the exhibition is presented along a timeline. It tells the connections between man and ox in the past millions of years through five parts: Foreword (The Ox and Ox Culture), Paralleled Movements, Crisscrossed Footprints, Changing Roles, and Go Ahead Side by Side. The exhibition aims to popularize the knowledge of the ox and its contribution to mankind, let the audiences feel the coexistence relationship between man and animals, and establish the awareness of protecting endangered animals.

【Basic Information of the Exhibition】

Name: Companion — Special Exhibition for the Year of the Ox 2021

Location: Temporary Exhibition Hall, B1, Shanghai Natural History Museum

Time: 2021.2.12—2021.6.13 (closed on Monday, except national holidays)

Host: Shanghai Natural History Museum (branch of the SSTM)

Co-organizer: Shanghai Media Group

[Exhibition Content]

1. Foreword (The Ox and Ox Culture)

The audiences can feel a strong visual impact brought by the bright red thematic background, which implies a prosperous year of the ox. The poems in the curtains hanging in the middle of the exhibition hall and the prints on the walls on both sides highlight the importance of the ox in traditional Chinese culture.

2. Paralleled Movements

The audiences can see the history of evolution of the ox and humans over millions of years. In this period, each species was like a separate musical note, composing its own movement in history. They coexisted but ran parallel to each other. A total of 21 specimens were displayed in this part, including the Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) exhibited for the first time. It is a bovid the closest to the ancestor of Bovinae anatomically and behaviorally. 

3. Crisscrossed Footprints 

This part tells the scientific stories behind four Chinese characters: "wu, lao, mu, and li". They represent the history of how the ancient people domesticated the ox (turning wild ox into cattle) and made use of the ox. In this area the audiences can see some replicas of oracle bone scripts, plows and rakes used for farming, and a very precious specimen of the skull of extinct Aurochs (Bos taurus primigenius). Chinese ancestors began to domesticate aurochs more than 10,000 years ago. A large part of the present cattle are their descendants.

 4. Changing Roles

The audiences can see that in modern times the number of cattle is huge and the demand for beef and milk is greater than that for farming cattle. Cattle are no longer the main force in farming, but food on the dining table. At the same time, the species diversity of wild ox is being lost...


5. Go Ahead Side by Side

This part discusses the future relationship between man and the ox. Shall we "go ahead side by side" or "go separate ways"? The choice is in our hands.


【Key Exhibits】

1. Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) 

Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is a bovid the closest to the ancestor of Bovinae anatomically and behaviorally. They stand 1.2–1.5 meters at the shoulder and measure 1.8–2 meters in body length. Their heads are long and narrow, with two small rounded horns leaning forward slightly. A short crest of hair stands on their necks. They are mainly distributed in central and northern India and eastern Pakistan. They were brought to Texas, the United States, in the 1920s.


2.  Skull of Aurochs (Bos taurus primigenius)

Aurochs (Bos taurus primigenius) is an extinct bovine subspecies and an undomesticated wild close relative of modern cattle. The last one of them died in Poland in 1627. A large part of the modern cattle are their descendants.


【Educational Activities】

Talk about the ox in the year of the ox

Time: 10:15/13:15

Location: At the entrance of the exhibition area

Who was the best "farmer" in ancient China?

Time: 14:15

Location: In front of the Chinese Characters and Farming Civilization booth in the exhibition area



The exhibition and activities are free, but you need to buy a ticket to enter the Shanghai Natural History Museum.