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Palace Museum begins building branch in northwestern Beijing

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-11 07:20
Shan Jixiang, the museum's director, briefs reporters on the branch's construction. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

"Our collections of large items, like the huge number of tapestries and sedan chairs, particularly need exhibition spaces," Shan said. "It's currently impossible to display them in the Forbidden City, but the new museum will offer good conditions to put them on display."

The director said the new museum will also become a hub for studying the horticulture of the imperial age. Plants grown there will be taken to the Forbidden City in downtown Beijing for display.

"Sometimes, it's difficult to breed some plants downtown because of the urban heat," he said. "It's better to do so in the outskirts."

The new complex will be also used to preserve and pass along expertise in the renovation of ancient architecture and traditional craftsmanship. Skilled craftsmen who are inheritors of intangible cultural heritage will join in renovation of cultural relics to revive old techniques.

There are many reasons for the location for the new museum. "This choice is to respect history," Shan said.

"During imperial years, when the royal family needed more space for palaces or resorts, they tended to choose a new area in northwestern Beijing, as in the case of the Summer Palace."

The new site also holds the remains of an old porcelain kiln. The kiln, which was used for items for the royalty, will become another attraction.

The new building's design was chosen from five final entries, based on the judgment of scholars and public input, Shan said. The museum administration opposed any "maverick" plan from overseas studios and invited domestic talent to submit proposals.

The architectural plan selected is from a team led by Zhang Yu with the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design.

Red and yellow - two colors that were often used by royalty in the Forbidden City - are featured in the new complex. The eco-friendly and energy-saving construction also is designed to match the surrounding natural environment.

Support infrastructure such as subway access also is planned. Shan said he expects the museum branch to receive 3 million annual visits.

Wang Ning, deputy mayor, said the museum "can be a hub for cross-border cultural communication and thus help our goal of making Beijing a global city".

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