The Forbidden City in Beijing was home to the imperial court between 1420 and 1912. Now home to the Palace Museum, it houses more than 1.8 million cultural relics and is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions.
To mark the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum will hold a series of exhibitions and events throughout 2020, the museum announced on Monday.
Over 20 exhibitions will be held in the museum, covering different areas such as history, calligraphy and paintings, Chinese festivals and customs, world civilizations and archaeological discoveries.
For the special occasion, Along the River during the Qingming Festival, one of China's most famous artistic masterpieces, will go on display in September 2020. In order to best preserve this precious artwork, it is only put on display once every few years. The painting was displayed for the first time back in 2005 to celebrate the Palace Museum's 80th anniversary and later in Hong Kong in 2007 to mark the 10th anniversary of its return to China. Such a rare sight is expected to draw huge crowds in 2020.
Another jewel in the crown of Chinese art history, The Night Revels of Han Xizai, will go on display in May 2020. The work by Gu Hongzhong, an imperial court painter during the Southern Tang Dynasty (937-975), inspired many Chinese painters to imitate the painting techniques used in the work. An exquisite collection of portraits will also be exhibited alongside the painting.
Special exhibitions on medicine used by the royal family and porcelain wares will also be held.
"There are more than 500 porcelains from the reigns of the [Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)] Hongwu, Yongle and Xuande emperors and more than 500 porcelains from the reigns of the [Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)] Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. We have never held such a large scale exhibition at the Palace Museum," said Shan Jixiang, curator of the Palace Museum, according to a report from Chinese video news agency CCTV Plus.
In addition to Chinese relics, treasures from the Moscow Kremlin Museums will also go on display in the Forbidden City.
Also during this time, the Yanxi Palace will begin displaying exhibits from foreign countries. The palace was recently brought into the spotlight by the wildly popular Chinese drama Story of Yanxi Palace - the most googled TV show of 2018. Another building, The Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxindian) will reopen in October 2020 after undergoing restoration. The hall is a fascinating place for visitors as it served as a political decision-making center and residence for eight emperors during the Qing Dynasty.
During the past few years, the Palace Museum has been working hard to provide innovative exhibitions and various events to familiarize the public with the history and culture of the Forbidden City. And it seems that these efforts have been paying off. The number of visitors to the museum exceeded 17 million for the first time in 2018.
According to the museum, more and more young people are also visiting the museum. Looking at the demographics for visitors in 2018, 40 percent were under 30, and people aged 30-40 accounted for 24 percent.
The duration of visits has seen an increase as well. While in the past, most people visited in groups and finished tours within half an hour, the increase in interesting and informative exhibitions on display have led to visitors spending more time in the museum.
Moreover, visitors are expanding their horizons beyond the palaces and halls along the central axis of the Forbidden City. The number of visitors to less well-known buildings, some of which only recently opened to the public, has increased significantly.