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Location: Pingliang Museum, Pingliang, Gansu Province
Dates: 26 September – 26 December 2019
On 26 September 2019, the opening ceremony for Pingliang Museum’s new museum complex and the inaugural exhibition “Auspicious Brilliance: Exquisite Court Enamels from the Palace Museum” was held in Pingliang, Gansu Province. Director Shan Jixiang, the former director of the Palace Museum and current director of the Gugong Institute, spoke during the ceremony. Deputy-Director Yan Hongbing of the Palace Museum and Director Xia Chunhong of the Gansu Province Cultural Exposition Bureau attended the ceremony. Pingliang’s Vice-Mayor He Ruilian and Deputy-Director Bai Jian of the Gansu Province Administration of Cultural Heritage spoke at the event.
Pingliang Museum was preceded by the Pingliang Regional Museum, established in 1979, which was renamed Pingliang Museum in 2002 and originally adjacent to the pagoda among the ruins of Yan’en Temple (lit. “Extended Favor Temple”) in the palatial courts of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) Prince of Han. In 2015, the municipal government initiated the project to construct a new museum at a different site to improve exhibition quality, cultural heritage protection and utilization, and the development of tourism in the Mount Kongtong natural scenic area. Meanwhile, with the approval of the Gansu Province Administration of Cultural Heritage and as an implementation of policies aimed at supporting the development of cultural innovation in Gansu, the Palace Museum has partnered with Pingliang Museum as its partner assistance institutional counterpart to provide support and guidance for the design and construction of the new complex, exhibitions and innovative cultural products, and educational programs. After four years, the project was completed on schedule.
In celebration of the achievement, the Palace Museum’s specially designed visiting exhibition “Auspicious Brilliance: Exquisite Court Enamels from the Palace Museum” was presented on the opening day of the new museum. The exhibition includes ninety-eight pieces (or sets, with a total of 124 individual pieces) of the finest enamels from the Palace Museum collection divided into two main categories of cloisonné and painted enamels with additional lacquered objects in an effort to fully display the development of the artform and the excellence of Chinese craftsmanship. The first section, “Celebration with Gold Filament: Cloisonné Enamel”, shows the development of the art from its transmission into China and process of nativization with highlights on the evolution of shapes, patterns, and functions and the elegance of articles reserved for imperial use. The second section, “Elegance of Lingzhi and Orchids: Painted Enamel”, presents how the flourishing European artform was brought to China by missionaries and became the subject of imperial admiration and exquisite artistry, especially during the Kangxi (1662–1722), Yongzheng (1723–1735), and Qianlong (1736–1795) reigns of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911).
This exhibition is the first cooperative effort between the Palace Museum and Pingliang Museum. Through positive coordination in this achievement as partner assistance, the two parties present this cultural offering to the people of Pingliang as part of the continuing development of the area’s cultural industries.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying