Nanjing Metro Art; One Big Installation Exhibit

Nanjing Metro Art

For us commuters the Nanjing metro experience is usually nothing special. Yet, there are stories behind our metro stations which make the experience unique, especially should we look up from our phones. Otherwise, we might miss out on Nanjing Metro Art.

Artistic designs are to be found in every station on the Nanjing metro network; each metro line and its stations being designed with specific cultural themes and decorated with wall paintings and sculptures.

Take “Candy Station” for example; simply Zhujiang Lu to those not in the know. Now an urban legend, a couple from a rural area came to Nanjing to take their child to see a doctor. Their story was to inspire Nanjing Metro Art.

Outside the Nanjing Children’s Hospital, the family were waiting at Zhujiang Lu station on their way home when their child asked for candy. As the cost of medical treatment and the long journey left the family strapped for cash, a staff member from the metro station gave him candy that she had initially prepared for her own child, and blessed him to get well soon. Ever since, all staff in Zhujiang Lu station carry candies and distribute them to children who are on the way to or from the hospital, hence “candy station”. 

It has been well over a decade since the Nanjing Metro opened, and a lot of effort has gone into characterising each station. Line 1 features historical sights and Line 2 traditional Chinese festivals, while Line 3 is in the theme of the Chinese classic, “A Dream in Red Mansions”; Line 4 features innovations made by local celebrities.

Muxuyuan Station, one of the most popular, pays homage to the Qixi Festival, China’s Valentine’s day. The frescoes on the roof of the station are based on the love story of the Cowherd and the Weaver. 18 columns are engraved with classic love stories from domestic and abroad that keep in line with the theme of everlasting love. 

These designs not only the historical side of Nanjing, but also present a modern and dynamic side to the city. At Yuantong station, the Nanjing Metro Art therein is themed “Bright New City”. Drawing from painting techniques, these works employ both square and circular geometry, together with pop-art colours that express the modernity of the surrounding parts of Hexi. Glass mosaics create dazzling visual effects which highlight perfectly the fast-growing district’s identity.

Perhaps next time, take a moment to take in our unique Nanjing Metro Art. Get to know it well enough and we may well not need look up from our phones to know where we are.

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Kristen Wang
A Nanjing local, Kristen studied Media and Public relations in Newcastle University (UK), has researched social media and online publishing and previously worked for different new media platforms. She is passionate about discovering new stories and helping expats involved in this city. 南京人Kristen毕业于纽卡斯尔大学,媒体与公共关系硕士学位。她的研究专注于社交媒体和网络发行,在不同的新媒体平台工作。她喜欢发现新鲜事,也希望帮助在南京的外国人融入这里的生活。