Krem­lin Mu­se­ums to present Chi­nese em­per­ors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ED­WARD COL­LIS and WANG KAIHAO in Hong Kong

In Rus­sian, the word “Krem­lin” means ci­tadel, in­di­cat­ing state power. But it’s more than that for Elena Ga­ga­rina, di­rec­tor of Moscow Krem­lin Mu­se­ums. For her, the com­plex is a unique his­tor­i­cal and architectural ensem­ble, dat­ing to the 16th cen­tury and com­pris­ing cathe­drals, palaces of tsars and the res­i­dence of Rus­sia’s pres­i­dent.

At a mu­seum sum­mit in Hong Kong in late June, Ga­ga­rina, daugh­ter of cos­mo­naut Yuri Ga­garin, the first man in space, said cul­tural ex­changes be­tween mu­se­ums are im­por­tant for build­ing up un­der­stand­ing be­tween coun­tries.

With that in mind, Krem­lin Mu­se­ums will host an ex­hi­bi­tion ded­i­cated to Chi­nese em­per­ors in the spring of 2019. The fol­low­ing year, a re­cip­ro­cal ex­hi­bi­tion from Moscow is planned at the Palace Mu­seum in Bei­jing.

“We have al­ready iden­ti­fied ex­hibits that will travel to China,” she said. “Among them are corona­tion robes, litur­gi­cal items, ar­mor, coins, medals, etch­ings and wa­ter­col­ors re­lated to corona­tion cer­e­monies held in the Assumption Cathe­dral,” Ga­ga­rina said.

Col­lec­tions are not the only things the two sides can share; they also have com­mon ex­pe­ri­ences. The Palace Mu­seum moved many key col­lec­tions to West China in the 1930s to pro­tect them from the im­mi­nent Ja­panese in­va­sion. The Krem­lin es­corted its col­lec­tions east­ward in the 1940s to Yeka­ter­in­burg, as Ger­man troops ap­proached Moscow.

Ga­ga­rina said her mu­se­ums have learned from the Palace Mu­seum’s ex­pe­ri­ence and will soon re­lease a smart­phone app. And a vir­tual ex­hi­bi­tion hall will be opened in the near fu­ture, with an ex­ten­sion on Moscow’s Red Square to pro­vide dis­play space for the large col­lec­tion, she said.

Bei­jing’s Palace Mu­seum has a daily visi­tor quota of 80,000. Krem­lin Mu­se­ums in­tends to limit its own an­nual traf­fic to fewer than 1.8 mil­lion vis­i­tors. The com­plex re­ceived 2.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2016.

While she knows that the

func­tion of vir­tual ex­hi­bi­tions is to re­lieve crowd pres­sure and show artifacts that are hard to reach or need pro­tec­tion, Ga­ga­rina said there is no sub­sti­tute for ac­tu­ally vis­it­ing the mu­se­ums.

In 2015, Krem­lin Mu­se­ums pre­sented an ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled Ar­mory Trea­sure House of Rus­sian Monar­chs at the Shang­hai Mu­seum. More than 640,000 vis­i­tors came dur­ing the three-month run.

In re­cent years, the Rus­sian mu­seum has made ef­forts to ex­pand its in­flu­ence among Chi­nese. For ex­am­ple, Chi­nese-speak­ing tour guides have been hired, and a Chi­nese-lan­guage web­site was cre­ated last year.

About 100,000 vis­i­tors from China came to Krem­lin Mu­se­ums in 2013, but the num­ber sky­rock­eted to more than 300,000 in 2016.

“We are work­ing on mak­ing our Chi­nese vis­i­tors feel more com­fort­able at the Krem­lin,” Ga­ga­rina said.

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