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Today is the forty-fifth International Museum Day, celebrated with the theme “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine”. This year’s theme, in light of the normalization of epidemic controls on a global scale, explores the many future challenges facing museums, such as how museums adapt and improve functional orientations in a timely fashion and positively explore new directions, models, and plans for museum development.
The Palace Museum held related in-person and online activities in a variety of modes of educational transmission to reimagine classics with a view on the future.
1. Exhibition of Educational Achievements in Museum-School Cooperation
Students are the future of the country while the Palace Museum is one of China’s world-class museums with a focus on education. Since around the year 2000, the Palace Museum has initiated cooperative programs with schools, which have already produced a diverse system of excellent curriculum for students ranging twelve grades from kindergarten to college. In 2019 alone, 655 events involving over 30,000 students were held as part of these cooperative programs.
On the afternoon of 18 May, an exhibition of achievements from these museum-school cooperative programs was held in the court of the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe men) in the Forbidden City. The content included samples of curriculum and artistic creations. Teachers and students from the Xi’erqi Primary School in Beijing participated in a practicum on the theme “Continue the Legacy of the Artisan Spirit, Construct the Beauty of Ancient Architecture”. Meanwhile, the Palace Museum’s Department of Publicity and Education and Jinfan Academy of Calligraphy and Painting jointly organized an exhibition of achievements from teacher workshops and artistic creations with the theme “Innovatively Reimagining Classics, Artistically Illuminating the Future” and displays of twenty-five mortise and tenon chairs that had been disassembled, reassembled, and painted. The activities included participants from various primary and secondary schools and universities as well as parents.
2. Online Release of Hundred-Part Audio Series “The Collections Speak”
On 18 May, the hundred-part audio series “The Collections Speak” (Cangpin you hua shuo) produced jointly by the Palace Museum, Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, and Beijing Society of Museums with Xinhuanet was officially released on Xinhuanet. Presented for the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the program recounts stories of love for the Party and patriotism in collection pieces from various museums, science museums, art museums, and memorial halls while reviewing the century of the Communist Party of China’s course of struggle and the long history of the Chinese nation.
The audio series “The Collections Speak” is a large-scale publicity project featuring over one-hundred collection pieces from almost sixty museums in audio stories that lead the public on a review of the century of Party history and the development of the Chinese nation in an experience of the glorious achievements of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese nation.
As a partner in the production, the Palace Museum presents stories of the qin-zither of remnant thunder (canlei qin), the stone drums, Letter to Boyuan (Boyuan tie), a tricolor camel figurine, and the renovation of the heritage architecture of the Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian) to describe the concern for the country and its people by the people of high ideals behind the objects, the complete support and proactive protection of the Party and government, and the legacy of artisanship in traditional Chinese art. The qin-zither of remnant thunder is, moreover, the first episode of the audio series.
Beginning 18 May, “The Collections Speak” will release five episodes each week on Xinhuanet until mid or late October when the series completes.
International Museum Day is not simply a festival for museums and museum workers but is, moreover, museums’ open door to the public so that more people may understand museums and related cultural offerings. The Palace Museum will continue to delve deeply into the resources of the collection to provide diverse cultural activities to the public and to better promote China’s excellent traditional culture.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu