Palace Museum to expand with new institute and restoration centre

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 11:39pm

Beijing's Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, houses more than a million items from the Ming and Qing dynasties in a sprawling complex of 980 buildings, but it is running out of space.

The museum's director, Dr Shan Jixiang, said it would expand beyond the city's ancient crimson walls, with plans to open an educational institute downtown and a conservation and repair centre in Haidian district.

Officials hoped the new space might also draw tourists and relieve the seasonal swells at the Forbidden City, the
Beijing Times quoted Shan as saying.

The Palace Museum Institute would offer classes on the study of antiquities and conservation, Shan said. It would be run as a non-profit organisation and host experts on understanding and authenticating relics.

The institute will be located at the Beijing International Vocational Education School and have 30 classrooms and lecture halls, among other teaching facilities. More information would be released in the coming days, he said.

The museum also planned to build a 470,000 square metre extension "campus" in Haidian, Shan said. It would serve as both a centre for conservation and repair for the museum's bigger items such as furniture, carpets and large paintings.

Parts of the restoration centre would be open to the public in a bid to attract tourists, Shan said.

During the National Day holiday week, an average of 170,500 tourists visited the Forbidden City each day - a record for the site. The campus expected at least three million tourists annually once it opened, Shan said.

"We will try to keep the number of visitors [to the Forbidden City] under 15 million this year, and hopefully get it down to 14 million next year," the
Times quoted Shan as saying.

"For the next two years, our goal is to expand the tourism area to 65 per cent of the entire Forbidden City."