China’s century-old Palace Museum in Beijing could triple the number of artefacts on display and hold more annual exhibitions once a massive expansion is completed, a museum official has said. The centrepiece of the project will be the new north campus consisting of 12 exhibition halls totalling 35,000 square metres (376,737 sq ft) of space. Once completed, the museum will be able to display up to 30,000 pieces annually, the museum’s party secretary and vice-chairman, Du Haijiang, told state television broadcaster CCTV on Thursday. Fewer than 10,000 of the Forbidden City’s nearly 1.9 million pieces of cultural relics are exhibited each year due to a “lack of space and conditions”, Du said. “The construction of the north campus is the biggest factor in the solution of the museum’s safety issues, including the safety of cultural relics and ancient buildings, the safety of visitors, and the safety of movable cultural relics ,” Du said, adding that presently, many ancient buildings in the Forbidden City – as the Palace Museum is known – are used as warehouses. The new campus will include a “heritage hospital” where visitors will be able to view the restoration process of various artefacts in a “more open” environment, Du said, adding that the original and new sites will “store different cultural relics according to their own environmental conditions”. Hong Kong authorities to review heritage status of World War II spy hub Paintings and calligraphy, for example, which require seasonal care and cannot be displayed during winter, summer and in rainy seasons due to their sensitivity to moisture and temperature changes, will be housed in the new facilities that will be furnished with advanced equipment, he said. The 2.1 billion yuan (US$310 million) expansion project will cover a total area of 11.56 hectares in a village northwest of Beijing, about 30km (18.6 miles) from the Forbidden City, home to the main Palace Museum. After nearly 10 years of planning – which included design proposals, approvals, state authorisations, project feasibility studies and construction bids – the project broke ground on December 30 and is expected to be completed in 2025. The north campus is a major cultural component of China’s 14th five-year plan , the blueprint setting out the country’s main economic and political goals from 2021 to 2025. It is also part of the “Peaceful Museum” project, which seeks to improve heritage protection and the sustainable development of the Palace Museum. Beijing hits back at Britain over Hong Kong report, calls it ‘waste paper’ The Forbidden City was built during the reign of the Ming dynasty’s Yongle emperor more than 600 years ago. It houses more than 90 palace quarters and courtyards and 980 other structures that have collectively become Beijing’s most popular tourist attraction. Hong Kong opened its own Palace Museum last year, displaying nearly 1,000 artefacts borrowed from Beijing’s Palace Museum, some of which had never been put on public display before.