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Xiamen to get Palace Museum gallery

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-06 07:31

The Palace Museum in Beijing, also called the Forbidden City, said on Friday that it will open its first permanent satellite gallery outside Beijing on Gulangyu Island in Xiamen, Fujian province, on May 13.

The Kulangsu Gallery of Foreign Artifacts from the Palace Museum Collections will be in a former hospital that was set up by a Dutch-American missionary in 1898.

The opening exhibition features 219 artifacts including antique clocks, scientific instruments and paintings from abroad. They come from the 16th to the early 20th century.

The artifacts were chosen from the Palace Museum's collection of some 10,000 foreign artifacts, many of which were brought by missionaries and diplomats to the court of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Because the museum has lacked a space to present the items, most of those going on display in Xiamen have long been stored in warehouses.

"The Palace Museum has the responsibility to find a place to show the artifacts to give the public a wider view of the world's civilization," said Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum. "Due to historical reasons, in Western museums, we can see many items from abroad, but such institutions are quite rare in China."

Gulangyu Island, a top tourist spot once called Kulangsu, hosted the settlements of 13 countries from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, making the 1.88-square-kilometer island a cultural melting pot.

"The island is a center of historical architecture from many countries," Shan said. "Its atmosphere echoes our exhibits from overseas, and is thus a perfect place to display them."

Gulangyu's bid to become a World Heritage Site will be taken up at a UNESCO conference in Poland in July. Ni Chao, a standing member of the Xiamen committee of the Communist Party of China, said the new, 5,168-square-meter museum will be a bonus for the island's cultural landscape.

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