China’s Forbidden City treasures on display in US for first time

World Today

In 2013, more than 14 million people visited the Palace Museum in Beijing. Now visitors were getting the chance to see some of its treasures in the United States for the first time.

The Forbidden City exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is part of a groundbreaking exchange between the two museums. A diverse collection, including paintings, costumes and furniture is offering visitors a glimpse into the life of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

It’s not every day you find one of China’s national treasures on display in the U.S. state of Virginia, but the imperial throne is just one of 200 rare objects opening up the hidden world of the Forbidden City to a new audience, more than 10,000 kilometers (about 6,200 miles) from its home in Beijing.

“The lure of the Forbidden City, the quality of this exhibition. There are 50 paintings, most of which have never left China before,” Alex Nyerges, Director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, said. “Many of these objects, [like] Emperor Qing Lon’s throne are great national treasures of China. And to have the opportunity to see it here in Richmond, Virginia, [it’s] the only place that one can see it unless you go to Beijing.”

Modern technology has helped bring these old works to life with the digital animation of an ancient scroll and the use of 3-D printing to help to convey the sheer size of the palace.

“Most people have no concept of the scale or scope of the vastness of what we know as the Forbidden City. Nearly 100 buildings and 160 acres are inside those walls. Just the scope of it is mind-boggling,” he said. “It’s the largest and most intact palace in the world.”

The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through grounds and buildings that were once forbidden to the public, bringing to life this part of Chinese history for the first time in an American museum and helping to break down cultural barriers in the process.

“Americans know so little about China and Chinese artistic traditions. This is our way of helping to bridge the gap of understanding between our two peoples and may be as a process of doing that, bring our two countries together,” Nyerges said. “I think people who come to see this exhibition are going to leave feeling closer to China than ever before and my guess is that they’re going to want to explore deeper here but then also go to China.”

In 2016, the Virginia museum will exhibit works from its permanent collection at the Palace Museum in Beijing, making it the first American museum to have such an opportunity.

China\'s national treasures on display for US Forbidden City exhibition

In 2013, more than 14 million people visited the Palace Museum in Beijing. Now foreigners are getting the chance to see some of its treasures in the United States for the first time. The Forbidden City exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is part of a groundbreaking exchange between the two museums. A diverse collection, including paintings, costumes and furniture is offering visitors a glimpse into the life of the Ming and Qing dynasties. CCTV America's Kate Fisher reported the story from Richmond, Virgina.

CCTV America’s Kate Fisher reported the story from Richmond, Virginia.