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China: Around The Nation

China to build second Palace Museum in Beijing’s suburbs to show more treasures

Less than one per cent of the art collections of former Ming and Qing dynasty emperors can be displayed in Beijing’s existing national museum building

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 11:43pm

A second Palace Museum will be built 25km from the existing premises in Beijing so more treasures from the former Chinese imperial palace can go on display, the China News Service reported on Monday.

Less than 1 per cent of the art collections from the palace, also known as the Forbidden City, can be displayed inside the present national museum because of space constraints.

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Treasures from the palace, home to Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasty emperors, include bronze statues, ­lacquer ware, textiles, pottery, paintings, calligraphy and ­religious artefacts.

Shan Jixiang, director of the museum, said the acute lack of any large space in the centre of the capital meant that the new museum would be built 25km from the current building, beside historic relics in a park that also houses a river and a lake.

The purpose-built museum would be located at a site being acquired by the city government following the eviction of the current occupants, the report said.

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The site lies to the north of the royal garden the Old Summer ­Palace – set ablaze during the 1860 Second Opium War – and south of the Great Wall and the 13 tombs of the Ming dynasty, also known as the 13 Ming Mausoleums.

Phase one of the project would involve the construction of a 125,000 square metre building, ­allowing a huge number of relics to be displayed, Shan said.

Nearly 80 exhibitions are held at the current museum each year, but these displays feature only about 0.5 per cent of the total number of ancient relics.

The new museum would also enable more relics to be repaired, with the process also made open to the public, Shan said.

Last year, the Palace Museum invited bids to design the second facility. Of the five designs submitted, one by architect Zhang Yu, with a red and gold facade similar to that of the original Forbidden City, was chosen.

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Zhang previously designed both the China National Film ­Museum and the China Science and Technology Museum.

The Palace Museum has collected 1.8 million relics, but only about 10,000 get to be seen in public each year.

The original Palace Museum would focus on presenting ancient art collections on different themes, while the second museum would feature a variety of relics, including some from around the world or from other museums in China, Shan was previously reported as saying.

The second museum is also expected to help reduce the number of people visiting the Forbidden City each year. At least three million people are expected to visit the new museum annually.