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Director of Palace Museum calls for more public access


03-15-2017 07:51 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

(Source: CGTN)

Ever since he was appointed as director of China's Palace Museum in 2012, Shan Jixiang has been active in preserving and promoting the cultural legacy of the museum. At this year's Two Sessions of China's national advisory board and legislature -  Shan called for opening up more of the museum's complex for the public to enjoy.

63-year-old Shan Jixiang is the director of the Palace Museum. For years, Shan has called for expanding and preserving more of the Forbidden City and the treasures inside.

During last year's two sessions, Shan pushed for major renovations inside the palace museum.

And during this year's Two sessions, he proposed adopting a new set of regulations and rules on how to best protect and preserve the historic complex.

"The Regulation of the Preservation of the Great Wall has been adopted, and it proved to be very effective. So this year we've drafted an outline for new regulations for the Palace Museum, and we hope to pass the cultural legacy of the Palace Museum on to many generations to come," Shan said.

The Palace Museum faces serious pressures. An increasing number of visitors want to see the palace's treasures, but overcrowding could harm preservation efforts. And as urbanization progresses in Beijing, construction around the Palace Museum may end up damaging its ancient buildings.

The Forbidden City's image as a museum has grown since Shan's last measures were approved in 2012. To make more room for more visitors, this year Shan has proposed moving 750 employees, roughly half the museum's staff, to offices outside of the complex.

He has also called for transforming an archaeological site that was unearthed in 2016 into a new public archaeological museum for the public to enjoy.

"I think it's great for people see the archaeological sites, to see what the palace was like over 600 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Yong Le. To see how the forbidden city was built, its groundwork, the materials and the techniques that were used, so that visitors get a comprehensive picture, and a deeper understanding of the structure," Shan said.

Shan is also excited about a new furnishings museum that is set to open at the end of this year, which will give visitors a glimpse of rare furnishing pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

"Over 80% of the furniture pieces have never been shown to the public before, this practice of displaying pieces that were previously kept in storage vaults has proven successful in major museums overseas. So we're eager to try," Shan said.

Apart from showing more relics to the public, the Palace Museum is committed to spreading cultural knowledge through modern channels as well.

The film documentary "Masters in the Forbidden City" has been extremely popular, especially with younger viewers.

And to create a better shopping experience for visitors, the museum's souvenir shop is being moved outside the forbidden city's walls.

"This new gift shop will be a place where you can meet your friend over a cup of tea, read books, and buy souvenirs... and most importantly, you don't have to buy the entrance ticket to the museum, and you can park your car a lot easier here," Shan said.

A nwew documentary about all of the changes that the complex has undergone will be released by the year 2020, to mark the Forbidden City's 600th anniversary.

"The Palace Museum will soon embrace its 600th birthday. And we thought it would be interesting to show the public how it has transformed from an imperial palace, reserved for royalty, to a public museum today," Shan said.

Shan regrets that the Palace Museum is either seen as a high-brow academic institution, detached from people's daily lives, or as a tourist destination. And that few people know much about the 1.8 million different cultural relics that are housed inside.

But he is aiming to change that, one step at a time.

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