Palace Mu­seum build­ing new un­der­ground ware­house for relics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By WANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@chi­

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of na­tional trea­sures housed in the Palace Mu­seum, also known as the For­bid­den City, will soon find a more pro­tec­tive home un­der­ground.

Con­struc­tion of a third un­der­ground ware­house for cul­tural relics be­gan at the mu­seum on Tues­day.

The For­bid­den City was China’s im­pe­rial palace from 1420 to 1911 — the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties — and houses 1.86 mil­lion cul­tural relics.

Shan Jix­i­ang, the mu­seum’s di­rec­tor, said about 970,000 relics are housed in un­der­ground stor­age ar­eas, and the rest are in var­i­ous places around the site.

“Due to out­dated tech­nol­ogy, all the ar­ti­facts un­der­ground are treated the same and stored at the same tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity,” he said. “We have to cre­ate tai­lored con­di­tions to pro­tect dif­fer­ent type of ar­ti­facts. A new ware­house with a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment is there­fore needed.”

The first un­der­ground ware­house at the Palace Mu­seum was built be­tween 1987 and 1991 and cov­ers 4,818 square me­ters. The sec­ond phase of con­struc­tion lasted from 1993 to 1997 and added an­other 15,970 square me­ters.

Spe­cial cases to pro­tect ar­ti­facts from earth­quakes have been in­tro­duced into the two ex­ist­ing ware­houses in re­cent years, eat­ing up pre­cious space.

Shan said the new ware­house, which will have 8,285 square me­ters of floor space and con­nect the two older ware­houses, will be equipped with bet­ter con­ser­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties to keep ar­ti­facts away from threats like leak­ing wa­ter.

The new stor­age area will be fin­ished by 2020, the 600th birth­day of the For­bid­den City, Shan said.

He said it will also en­sure the safety of many an­cient ar­ti­facts by re­mov­ing them from stor­age in the above­ground wooden struc­tures, which are sub­ject to fires.

A new un­der­ground chan­nel will also be built con­nect­ing the new ware­house and the so-called cul­tural relics hos­pi­tal in the west­ern part of the mu­seum.

The “hos­pi­tal”, one of the world’s largest con­ser­va­tion cen­ters of cul­tural relics at a mu­seum, was built in 2016. Shan said the tun­nel will en­able the move­ment and daily main­te­nance of relics and avoid dis­turb­ing other parts of the mu­seum.

“We will have big­ger ex­hi­bi­tion space as well, when these ware­houses are cleared,” Shan said.

For ex­am­ple, Nan­daku, or the south­ern grand ware­house — the largest in the For­bid­den City dur­ing im­pe­rial times — will be opened to vis­i­tors later this year as a per­ma­nent gallery dis­play­ing fur­ni­ture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (16441911) dy­nas­ties.

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