This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Palace Museum (a national museum housed in the Forbidden City in Beijing). Staff of the exhibition department are busy preparing the opening of the biggest exhibition hall of the museum, which is constituted by the Meridian Gate and its east and west wings. A combination of ancient architecture and modern exhibition facilities, this unique exhibition hall will display cultural relics chosen in the general survey of collections in recent years.
Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, explains that this year five new sites will be opened to visitors and the total area accessible to visitors will reach 65 percent of the whole palace. Meanwhile, 18 new exhibitions will be launched, increasing the number of pieces exhibited from 10,000 to 14,000 or 15,000 pieces. Many cultural relics will emerge from storage for the first time. "It is our way of repaying the support from fans and visitors," said Shan Jixiang.
After lying dormant for 3 years, "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" painted by Zhang Zeduan of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) will be displayed in this year's exhibitions. Since the museum has a rule that each painting and calligraphy work must "rest" for 3 years after an exhibition, many visitors have lost the chance to see this national treasure. In the imperial collections exhibition to be held, many famous works will meet new visitors, including "Bo Yuan Tie", "Spring Tour of Zhan Ziqian", "Light Snow in Fishing Village", etc.
The basic work of exhibitions is the general survey of collections. In the past 90 years, the Palace Museum has conducted 5 general surveys. From 2004 to 2010, staff took 7 years to carefully ascertain that the museum has a total of 1,807,558 items, of which 1,684,490 are precious cultural relics, accounting for 93 percent of the museum's total collections and 42 percent of the national total of precious cultural relics.
According to Shan Jixiang, the purpose of the general survey is to better manage and protect the precious cultural relics that represent China's fine culture. The exhibitions will show the visitors the charm and cultural spirit of the collections in various ways, so the historical information and cultural value of the exhibits will be understood by more people.