HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS BRIEFS
FACELIFT FOR FORBIDDEN CITY'S ANNIVERSARY
The Palace Museum will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its establishment as a museum in October. A number of exhibitions and conferences will coincide with that event. Sumptuous displays are planned for the occasion. These include:
Three international conferences are planned for the period 9-14 October 2005: one on ancient ceramics; a conference on the Song dynasty painting Ascending the River at Qingming Festival and Song paintings on folkloric themes, mentioned above; and, and a conference on Ming and Qing dynasty palace architecture.
Zheng Xinmiao, chief curator of the Palace Museum, announced on 19 September that the Chinese Government will spend RMB 1.5 billion yuan on restoring the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, over the next 15 years.
CHINAS OLDEST MUSEUM CELEBRATES CENTENARY
In September 2005, the Nantong Museum celebrated its 100th anniversary. The first museum founded by a Chinese entrepreneur in the modern period, Nantong Museum was the brainchild of Zhang Jian (1853-1926), whose blueprints for Nantong city promoted the museum and botanical garden as central municipal institutions. In 1905, Zhang also petitioned the throne to establish a royal museum in Beijing. A new museum is being built beside the old structure in Nantong.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CHINA STRENGTHENS COOPERATION WITH BRITISH MUSEUM
On 6 September 2005, the curators of the National Museum of China and the British Museum signed a memorandum of understanding, promising to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the fields of exhibition and research. The memorandum states that the British Museum is expecting to show the highlights of its collections to visitors in Beijing at the National Museum of China, when the renovations and extensions of the latter are completed in 2008.
The National Museum of China is aiming to diversify its exhibitions. On 29 July 2005, the museum displayed 308 items related to the tea culture of Beijing's Dashila district, near Qianmen. The exhibition was arranged in conjunction with the Laoshe Teahouse, a local business that has attracted millions of tourists since its establishment in 1988, and one that is named after the famous writer Lao She (Shu Yi, 1899-1966) whose play "Teahouse" provided a social realist history of Beijing.
FIRST HAKKA ECO-MUSEUM CONSTRUCTED IN GUANGXI
Wu Weifeng, deputy curator of the Ethnic Nationalities Museum of Guangxi, told Xinhua News Agency on 17 July 2005 that an 'ecological museum' presenting the culture of the Hakka people is being constructed in Hezhou city in the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi province. The museum is being built around three circular residential keeps, called tulou, which were the distinctive traditional community residences of Hakka people in Liantang township, Hezhou. The museum, covering an area of 2 sq km, will be opened to the public in the first half of 2006.
TUNNEL WARFARE MUSEUM ATTRACTS 8 MILLION VISITORS
In a press release on 3 July 2005, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), a spokesperson for the Tunnel Warfare Museum in Ranzhuang village, Hebei province, announced that the museum had attracted more than 8 million visitors since it opened to the public in 1959. In 1961, the museum was listed by the State Council among the country's first group of cultural relics under state protection. The existing tunnels in Ranzhuang, the largest in central Hebei, are nearly 3,000m in length and are well preserved. A small site museum has a display of more than 400 items of the partisan war.
PRIVATE LETTERS EXHIBITION
The project, initiated by the National Museum of China, the China Folk Literature and Art Society and other bodies determined to salvage private letters (see: "Collecting Old Family Letters", Articles, China Heritage Newsletter, issue no. 2), came to fruition with an exhibition displaying people's private letters to family members at the National Museum in Beijing on 19 June 2005. Some of the letters dated back to the early Ming dynasty; others are from prominent modern figures, including renowned artists and writers.
MEMORIAL CONSTRUCTED FOR LEGENDARY CHINESE EMPERORS
Construction began in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, in late June on a memorial facility dedicated to the legendary founder-emperors of China, Emperors Yan and Huang. Zhengzhou is only one of many cities in China where shrines to Emperor Yan, also known as Emperor Shennong, and Emperor Huang, or the Yellow Emperor, are being built. Funds for the project, estimated to cost RMB 120 million yuan, are being provided by an anonymous Hong Kong businessman.