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Preceded by celebrations in 2019 of the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the coming year of 2020 will mark the 600th anniversary of the construction of the Forbidden City. This historic sixth centennial coincides with the ninety-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Palace Museum. Traditional Chinese culture associates the idea of “Five Blessings” (Wufu) with longevity, and the one-hundredth birthday of an elder is celebrated as a rare milestone. The unprecedented endurance of this imperial complex of timber structures under the care of the Ming and Qing courts and, now, the Palace Museum is worthy of grand celebration.
In order to usher in the auspicious occasion, a variety of exhibitions featuring the most exquisite works in the collection and the height of artistic ingenuity is currently being planned or installed in the galleries of the imperial courts. The following information includes the planned venues, provisional titles, and approximate dates of upcoming exhibitions.
The Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate
Glorious Abundance, Blossoming Splendor: Floral Botanical Motifs in Historical Chinese Art
In celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate (Wu men) will feature an exhibition of the Museum’s collection pieces centered around the theme of flowering plants and trees. With paintings, decorative objects, embroidery, and books on view, the gallery displays will be complemented by the array of seasonal flowers exhibited throughout the Forbidden City.
Ming Ceramics of the Hongwu, Yongle, and Xuande Reigns
Near the end of this current year, the Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate (Wu men) will feature ceramics from the reigns of three Ming emperors, namely the Hongwu (r. 1368–1398), Yongle (r. 1403–1424), and Xuande (r. 1426–1435) reigns. As the world's largest repository of Ming-dynasty (1368–1644) imperially commissioned ceramics, the Palace Museum continues to present the collection in ongoing series of exhibitions of the works of China’s five renowned kilns and Ming imperial kilns. This exhibition will break records with approximately 500 pieces (or sets) of ceramics in a comprehensive look at works of that period.
The Night Revels of Han Xizai and Historical Chinese Figure Painting
The Night Revels of Han Xizai (Detail)
Towards the end of spring in the coming year, the Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate (Wu men) will host an exhibition of The Night Revels of Han Xizai (Han Xizai yeyan tu by Gu Hongzhong; Five Dynasties period, 906–960) in an overview of the history of Chinese figure painting. The Palace Museum’s collection of figure paintings includes masterpieces such as Noble Ladies with Fans (Huishan shinü tu), The Night Revels of Han Xizai, Gathering Vetch (Caiwei tu), and Xiao Yi Obtaining the Preface to the Orchid Pavilion (Xiao Yi zhuan lanting tu). The works on view will showcase the development of techniques and styles in Chinese figure painting.
Life along the Bian River at the Pure Brightness Festival and Historical Chinese Genre Painting
Life along the Bian River at the Pure Brightness Festival (Detail)
In the fall of next year, the Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate (Wu men) will feature an exhibit of the unrivaled painting Life along the Bian River at the Pure Brightness Festival (Qingming shanghe tu by Zhang Zeduan; Northern Song dynasty, 960–1127) and other works of genre painting, which show scenes of daily life from throughout China’s dynastic history. The paintings on view will provide a glimpse into quotidian events of individuals and groups in all sectors of historical Chinese societies.
Qing Ceramics of the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong Reigns
At the end of next year, the Tower Galleries of the Meridian Gate (Wu men) will showcase ceramics from the reigns of three Qing-dynasty (1644–1911) rulers, namely the Kangxi (r. 1662–1722), Yongzheng (r. 1723–1735), and Qianlong (r. 1736–1795) emperors. With over 500 pieces (or sets) of the most representative and exquisite ceramics from those reigns, the galleries will include other articles to complement the ceramic works and explicate the milieu of the period, which was the zenith of Chinese ceramic arts.
The Hall of Literary Brilliance
The Qianlong Emperor’s Gathering of Literati
The Hall of Literary Brilliance (Wenhua dian) will feature an exhibition of calligraphy and paintings by the Qianlong Emperor and his talented court officials.
Artifacts of Tibetan Buddhism
Highlighting the relations between the imperial court and the Fifth Panchen Lama (Panchen Erdeni, 1663–1737), this exhibition in the Hall of Literary Brilliance (Wenhua dian) will present the important contributions to Buddhist art by the Zhaxi Lhünbo Monastery (in present-day Shigatse, Tibet Autonomous Region) and the unity of the Han and Tibetan peoples throughout Chinese history.
The Art of the Ren Family of Shanghai
Chinese Wisteria and Sparrows by Ren Yi
One Leaf from Ren Xiong's Ten Magnificent Landscapes Album
At the end of spring in 2020, the Hall of Literary Brilliance (Wenhua dian) will showcase the calligraphy and paintings of the late-Qing Shanghai artists Ren Xiong (1823–1857), Ren Xun (1835–1893), Ren Yi (1840–1896), and Ren Yu (1853—1901).
The Hall of Martial Valor
A Millennium of Cultural History in the Xiongan Area
Jade of the Neolithic Liangzhu Culture
The New Ceramics Gallery
At the end of June 2020, the renovations of the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuyin dian) will be completed and the new Ceramics Gallery will open with an exhibition of a selection of the finest works of ceramics in the collection systematically illustrating the history of Chinese ceramics.
The Gate of Divine Prowess
Solemn Ceremony: Treasures of the Russian Court from the Kremlin Museums
This coming summer, the Palace Museum in cooperation with the Kremlin Museums will host an exhibition in the galleries atop the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu men) with an array of the most important works from the Romanov court. As the first comprehensive exhibition of its kind outside of Russia, the exhibition will feature ceremonial and military garments worn by the czar, accessories, archives, printed materials, and photographs.
The Hall for Abstinence and the Hall of Sincere Solemnity
Auspicious Dragon and Phoenix Motifs in the Palace Museum Collection
The Hall for Abstinence (Zhai gong) and the Hall of Sincere Solemnity (Chengsu dian) will host an exhibition of works in the Museum’s collection featuring images of the dragon and the phoenix.
The Boundless Realm of Longquan: Globalization and Longquan Celadon
This exhibition will showcase the Longquan celadon of the collections of the Palace Museum, British Museum, and other influential museums throughout the world. With pieces from kilns throughout China and those found in shipwrecks around the world, the gallery will include ceramics from Japan, Korea, India, Iran, England, the United Arab Emirates, and many other locations where Longquan celadon or imitations have been discovered. With an emphasis on China’s historical maritime trade, the exhibition will deepen visitors’ understandings of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
The Palace of Great Benevolence
The Scholar’s Studio in the Forbidden City
The Palace of Great Benevolence (Jingren gong) will feature the accoutrements of the scholar’s studio with inkstones, brushes, ink, and paper from the Qing court collection, including articles produced in the imperial workshops.
Lacquered Art of the Qing Dynasty
This exhibition will feature lacquerware from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
Jade from the Reign of the Qianlong Emperor
This exhibition will feature approximately 19,000 pieces (or sets) of jade with one-hundred of the most exquisite works from the collection.
The Palace of Prolonging Happiness
In the coming year, the Palace of Prolonging Happiness (Yanxi gong) will be transformed into an international art gallery to showcase the Museum’s vast collection of works originating in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Italy, Austria, the United States, Bulgaria, Japan, Korea, and many other countries. Ranging from ceramic dishes to scientific instruments, these works were created from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries.
The Belvedere of Embodying Benevolence and the Belvedere of Spreading Righteousness
The Belvedere of Embodying Benevolence (Tiren ge), the Belvedere of Spreading Righteousness (Hongyi ge), and the adjacent northern and southern galleries have been redesigned to provide a showcase for The Great Treasury of Sutras (Dazang jing, also known as the Chinese Buddhist Canon) in the Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese, and Manchu languages as compiled and printed during the reigns of the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong reigns.
The Palace of Eternal Harmony
Silver Pharmaceutical Instrument Set, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Medication Log for the Empress Dowager Cixi, Guangxu Reign (1785-1908), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
The Palace of Eternal Harmony (Yonghe gong) will host an exhibition of the various medical treatments and pharmaceuticals employed within the imperial court of the Qing dynasty.
The Palace of Accumulated Purity
Resonance of the Sages: The Beauty of Chinese Zithers
The Palace of Accumulated Purity (Zhongcui gong) will be the site of an exhibition on the qin zithers and related articles from throughout Chinese history in the Museum collection.
The Hall for Ancestral Worship
Restoration of Period Décor
The Hall for Ancestral Worship (Fengxian dian) will be opened after the completion of the restoration of the hall’s period décor.
The Palace Kitchens
Exhibition of Ceramics Storage
The complex of palace kitchens will feature an exhibition of approximately 15,000 pieces while highlighting the methods of management and preservation of the ceramics collection as implemented by the Museum’s personnel.
The Hall of Southern Fragrance
Ming Furniture Gallery
The Hall of Southern Fragrance (Nanxun dian) is soon to be transformed into the Ming Furniture Gallery and will provide a juxtaposition to the Qing court furniture exhibition currently housed in the Southern Storehouses.
The Hall of Mental Cultivation
The Museum administration anticipates “The Hall of Mental Cultivation Research and Conservation Initiatives” to be completed in the fall of 2020.
The Palace for Nurturing Joy
The Palace for Nurturing Joy (Yuqing gong) was the residence of the heir apparent. This courtyard will soon be restored to the period décor of the Guangxu reign (1875–1908) and provide a showcase of the imperial successor’s daily life.
The Palace of Universal Happiness
Art Conservation at the Palace Museum
The Palace of Universal Happiness (Xianfu gong) will soon feature a multimedia exhibition of art conservation. The gallery space will include displays of intangible cultural heritage and interactive media.
Exhibitions in Hong Kong and Macau, China
Achievements of Art Conservation at the Palace Museum
Hong Kong Science Museum
The Forbidden City and the Maritime Silk Road
Museu de Arte de Macau
Treasures from the Palace Museum: The Flourishing of China in the 18th Century
March 15–May 30, 2019
Kremlin Museums in Moscow, Russia
Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912
March 30–June 23, 2019
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., United States
Clocks in the Collection of the Palace Museum
The United Kingdom
Splendid Dominion: Viewing China through the Eyes of Two Ming Emperors
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore
This exhibition will feature eighty to one-hundred pieces of art from the Yongle (r. 1403–1424) and Wanli reigns (r. 1573–1620).
Benefits of Sustainable and Innovative Exhibition Planning
The Palace Museum has continually sought to develop sustainable and innovative methods in exhibition planning and collection management. The first benefit of this drive is the health and stability of the heritage architecture facilitating museum-wide exhibitions thanks to the projected end in 2020 of an eighteen-year restoration of the Forbidden City’s architecture and the end of the “Safe Museum, Secure Palace” (Ping’an Gugong) campaign on June 30, 2020. The second benefit is from the successful end of a seven-year long ordering of collection pieces and the end of a three-year long general survey and ordering, as well as committed conservation projects, the Museum administration seeks to achieve the goal of exhibiting 12% of the collection by 2020, with 30% as a long-term target. The third benefit is from the Museum’s expanded influence throughout society, resulting in generous institutional and individual donations which help to fund a wide range of projects and infrastructural developments. The fourth benefit is from the Museum’s promotion of academic research in a total of twenty-two fields ranging from archaeology to the culture of traditional Chinese medicine, forging a solid cultural core to social services and cultural events, while the fifth is the continued development of the Digital Palace Museum Community, helping the museum to reach out to a wider audience. Finally, the sixth benefit is from the expansion of the visiting areas within the Forbidden City, so that visitors gain a more thorough view of the complex with its multiplex functions and continuously refreshing exhibition experiences.
Diversity and Mindfulness
During this celebration of the sixth centennial of the construction of the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum aims to present a diversity of exhibitions and mindful services to visitors. Interactive digital media, increased greenery and foliage, elegant bookstores, multiple shops, unique restaurants, and a host of other offerings are some of the many ways in which the Palace Museum provides services and presents the history of the imperial court to the general public.
The planned venues, approximate dates, and provisional exhibition titles provided in this preview may be subject to change. Final exhibition notices and introductions will be posted around the time of exhibition.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying