Unlike the museum in Beijing and Xi'an, which wow visitors with their culture and historical exhibitions, Yantai Museum attract travelers for its architecture rather than the displays housed within it.
The buildings were originally built by merchants from Fujian Province, in south China as a place of worship to the Heavenly Goddess, protector of sailors. No wonder it followed the architectural style of Fujian, which is exquisitely carved and resplendently painted.
Construction began in 1884 and finished in 1906 with more than 20 years’ effort. It was designed and completed in Quanzhou, a city in Fujian Province, and shipped for a long distance of 3,500 miles to Yantai for assembly.
The complex covers an area of 3,500 square meters, and is brightly decorated with exquisitely carvings, so much so that it has been renowned as "a treasure of carving art". The themes of these sculptures are mainly birds, flowers, animals and figures important in Chinese legends, which are also the main subjects of Chinese painting and sculpture. These carvings not only add beauty and magnificence to the architecture, but portray scenes and legends. For example, the carving of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea vividly depicts the story that even those who have no knowledge of it will get a clue from the carving - Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea is a household legend in China. The story was said to take place in Penglai Pavilion in the fairyland-like island of Penglai, around 65 kilometers northwest of Yantai, where the Eight Immortals Crossed the Sea using their formidable power. The Eight Immortals has become subjects of many artistic creations like painting, sculpture as the legend spreads.