Museums China

Palace Museum to open north branch in Beijing suburb

The 45-hectare complex will accommodate large-scale displays and include a conservation centre

The northern gate of the Forbidden City

The Palace Museum, Beijing, is building a satellite 40km north of the Forbidden City, housing exhibition spaces and a conservation centre, which is due to opens in three to five years time, our sister paper The Art Newspaper China reports. Shan Jixiang, the museum’s director, says: “The Palace Museum north branch will represent traditional Chinese culture, regional characteristics and the spirit of our age.” He says that the north branch will accommodate large-scale and thematic exhibitions that will complement historical displays and small exhibitions held in the Forbidden City. “Visitors can go to the Forbidden City in the morning and the north branch in the afternoon”. He expects around 3 million people to visit a year.

The north branch site measures around 45 hectares. Less than half of the land will be built on, the rest will be left as a green belt, including a wetland park. Low-rise and spacious buildings will be designed to accommodate large-scale exhibitions and installations. The complex will include a 15,000 sq. m conservation centre, a 60,000 sq. m exhibition space, collection stores and a digital media gallery. The first phase of the project is the construction of the conservation centre for the care of objects such as Western clocks, carpets, portraits of emperors, furniture, ceremonial weapons, lamps and lanterns, vehicles and palanquins.

In addition to 11 studios devoted to different conservation techniques, the north branch started hosting training courses in early July, teaching international museum professionals how to mount and conserve calligraphy and painting.

The new north branch will be located in Xiyuhe Village, in the Haidian District, a suburb of Beijing. The site was formerly a brick kiln with a history going back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). Today, it is a village of around 90 families, all of who will move to a new village at the end of this year to make way for the complex.

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