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In celebration of the Year of the Boar (the jihai year), the Palace Museum presents an exhibition called "Celebrating the Spring Festival at the Palace Museum with Time-Honored Chinese Brands" with support from the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the government of Shandong Province. With 150 participating companies or organizations, the exhibition includes representative brands from Shandong, Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Jilin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Henan along with five organizations involved in the preservation of China's intangible cultural heritage. Held from January 28 through February 10, 2019 in the Garden of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining gong huayuan), the courtyard adjacent to the garden, and the large courtyard adjacent to the Gate of the Thriving Imperial Clan (Longzong men), the vendors and displays offer stationery, items for daily use, unique foods, health products, candy, tea, alcohol, silk, attire, jewelry, accessories, jade, innovative cultural products, and handicrafts representing China’s intangible cultural heritage.
This exhibition is one of the many ways the Palace Museum has been promoting cultural innovation and decreasing the distance between the museum and the general public in order to allow visitors to enjoy the Forbidden City both within and outside its walls. China’s time-honored brands have a long history and preserve local traditions from across the country’s diverse cultural landscape. By celebrating the Spring Festival in this cooperative way, the Museum and these brands make full use of their cultural experience and commercial resources to promote museum-innovation and to bring the Forbidden City’s collection to life. "Celebrating the Spring Festival at the Palace Museum with Time-Honored Chinese Brands" is, moreover, part of the continuing implementation of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important directive to protect and preserve China’s time-honored brands and promote traditional Chinese culture.
While all of the products included in the exhibition display unique aspects of Chinese culture, some highlight the Forbidden City’s nearly 600 years of cultural heritage. Traditional medicine (such as donkey-hide gelatin or ejiao), old wine (laojiu), silks and satins, renowned teas, lacquer ware, enamels, Hui calligraphy brushes, and She inkstones add to the seasonal atmosphere and reflect the lavish lifestyle enjoyed in the imperial courts. While Chinese people traditionally return home for the Spring Festival, which is China’s most important holiday, some families enjoy the new trend of visiting museums during their vacation. The concurrent exhibition “Celebrating the Spring Festival in the Forbidden City” with gallery displays and festive décor throughout the palace has already received an exuberant response from the general public as the Museum welcomed over 20,000 visitors per day over a twenty-day period from January 1 when the exhibition began. That number reflects an increase of over seventy percent in visitors during this year’s off-season.
With primary displays in the galleries atop the Meridian Gate (Wu men), the exhibition is divided into the following six sections: Auspicious Invocation, Filial Sacrifice, Imperial Kinship, Diligent Governance, Winter Recreation, and Universal Delights. Each section features a range of art and cultural artifacts from the Museum’s collection that highlight various ways in which the Spring Festival was celebrated in the Forbidden City during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Outside the gallery halls, festive décor such as paintings of door-gods on palatial gates and lanterns accenting the colonnades may be seen throughout the courtyards. Additionally, heavenly lanterns and longevity lanterns have been erected at the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong) as a revival of a tradition that ceased as per imperial orders 180 years ago. The east side-gallery of that palace features various interactive digital displays. More exciting highlights are explained in the introduction to the exhibition. With the showcase of time-honored Chinese brands and festive imperial décor, the Palace Museum presents a unique and historic experience for this year’s Spring Festival.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying