They lived their lives inside China’s Forbidden City. Now, their stories are being told outside the palace walls. An exhibition highlighting the empresses of the Qing Dynasty makes its final U.S. stop in Washington D.C.
As CGTN’s Elaine Reyes explains, it’s part of a global push by the Palace Museum to promote Chinese culture and art.
It’s a visual treat for the eyes – transporting visitors back centuries from a museum in Washington, D.C. to the court of the Qing Dynasty.
Imperial robes, jewelry, portraits, and furnishings – some 165 objects made for, by and about the empresses of China’s last imperial dynasty are on display. Shining a light on the hidden history of influence, accomplishment, and authority held by these women over nearly 270-years.
Curators from the U.S. spent four years working with colleagues at the Palace Museum in Beijing to identify the items – many never displayed outside of China.
It’s the largest exhibition the Palace Museum has ever held overseas. And it’s timed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington.
— Freer|Sackler (@FreerSackler) March 28, 2019
Zhu Hongwen is the Deputy Director of the Palace Museum. She compared the empresses to an invisible line, linking the past to the present… and connecting the U.S. with China.
“235 years ago in 1784, a ship named Empress of China carried fur, feathers and American ginseng sailing from the U.S. to Canton, China to build a bridge of trade between these two countries,” Zhu said.
“If we take the ship as the first trade contact between our two nations, then this exhibition starts a new chapter of China U.S. culture exchange.”
The exhibition closes in June. But the Palace Museum is already looking to the future and exploring ways to work with U.S. cultural institutions to provide new opportunities and advance foreign understanding of the arts.
Jan Stuart on working with Beijing’s Palace Museum on US-China exhibition
Jan Stuart is curator of Chinese Art at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries. She spoke with CGTN’s Elaine Reyes about the diplomacy needed to put the ‘Empresses of China’s Forbidden City’ exhibition together.