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18 July 2017 – "We All Live in the Forbidden City" opened this Tuesday in the Palace of Great Benevolence (Jingren Gong). The educational exhibition is jointly held by the Palace Museum and Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). The opening ceremony was attended by the Museum's Director Shan Jixiang; LCSD's Deputy Director Wu Zhihua; Exhibition Designer Chiu Kwong-chiu; Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Hong Kong, Mrs. Betty Fung; and the Museum’s Deputy Directors Ji Tianbin, Lou Wei, and Li Xiaocheng. The Museum's Executive Deputy Director Wang Yamin hosted the ceremony.
Specifically designed for children and youth, the exhibition is aimed at teaching them about the Museum’s history and China’s traditional culture. Content is displayed through illustrated display panels, 3D models, and multimedia features, which are all designed to afford modern visitors an imaginative museum experience. The exhibition includes four sections.
1. Strolling the Palace Grounds
In this part, visitors can explore the characteristics of the imperial residence and its buildings. They can gain an appreciation of the memories held within the walls and columns of the palace by witnessing the remnants of imperial life. They will also be able to see life around the palace wells and learn how auspicious water-vats (jixiang gang) kept the imperial residences and halls safe from fire.
2. Admiring Palatial Architecture
As the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, the Forbidden City contains the labor and wisdom of generations of artisans and craftsmen. This part of the exhibition showcases the ancient architecture of the Museum.
3. The Imperial Family Tree
The imperial family is represented by the emperor as a life-giving tree trunk and his family members as the branches and leaves. Undergirding the tree was a system of regulations for every aspect of their daily lives and for the responsibilities of the imperial residents. A sizable force of palace guards complemented the imperial family with their regulated life. This part of the exhibition highlights the structure of the imperial family and their life in the palace.
4. Get Animated
Following a collaborative agreement signed between the LCSD of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Palace Museum in 2012, large-scale exhibitions featuring art from the Museum’s collection have been organized by LCSD museums each year. Highly praised by visitors, these exhibitions have included "A Lofty Retreat from the Red Dust: The Secret Garden of Emperor Qianlong" in 2012; "Western Scientific Instruments of the Qing Court" in 2015; "Ceremony and Celebration – The Grand Weddings of the Qing Emperors" in 2016; "Hall of Metal Cultivation of The Palace Museum – Imperial Residence of Eight Emperors", and "Longevity and Virtues: Birthday Celebrations of the Qing Emperors and Empress Dowagers". The new "In Touch with Palace Museum” campaign is currently being promoted until the end of July 2017. A fine selection of multimedia features and animations are displayed in this “Get Animated” part of the exhibition and will encourage visitors to explore the Museum and Chinese history.
An art consultant for LCSD and cultural researcher, Chiu Kwong-chiu with his Design and Cultural Studies Workshop has made significant contributions through his exploration, research, and promotion of the Forbidden City’s cultural heritage. For example, the Small Forbidden City (Xiaoxiao Zijincheng) educational program, backed by the Museum and its publishing house, has been used in many primary and middle schools in China and throughout the world. The Museum and its publishing house started their cooperation with Mr. Chiu’s workshop in 2007, and they have produced The Grand Forbidden City — The Imperial Axis; We All Live in the Forbidden City series; National Arts: Twelve Beauties (Guojia yishu: Shier meiren); The Forbidden City 100, and The Best Palace.
This exhibition showcases the fruition of the past ten years in publishing, education, exhibition, multimedia, and cultural innovation. With an innovative design and creative presentation, this exhibition will give visitors a new, imaginative perspective on the Palace Museum.
The Forbidden City has been in existence for six centuries; its culture has been shaped through time and enriched by various historic events. Interactive display panels will allow visitors to explore that history in vivid detail. These and other cultural innovations will aid viewers and promote a diversity of practical activities. With the most recent innovations in museum planning and curatorial production, the exhibition represents the experimental advancement of the Palace Museum.
The exhibition will remain open until October 2017.
Translated by Wang Mengxi and Adam J. Ensign
Edited by Zhuang Ying