The palace museum is the name given by the Chinese to the Forbidden City. It is therefore the palace of the emperors of China, from the beginning of the XVth century to the beginning of the XX th . Nowadays this palace is not only more forbidden, but it is one of the most visited sites of China, and there is something about it because it is a fantastic city in the city, a return in the weather, far from the ambient noise of Beijing's avenues. The visit sends the tourist into a strange world, made of calm. It must be said that it is so big that one never has the impression to be jostled, oppressed, it can be crowd, it is diffused in all the rooms of the palace and never appears compact, as it is is unfortunately the case, for example, at the Christ the redeemer of Rio.
First and foremost, a museum
If the Chinese call it "Museum", it's because it's one, above all. Tourists only tend to see the buildings themselves, the courtyards, the decorations of the walls, but many pavilions house collections, they are generally classified by theme. Such pavilion will present such a collection, such another another collection, etc. The interest of this museum is that the buildings which shelter them are as interesting as the collections themselves, and that one generally comes for the first ones, the collections are therefore often little seen. Especially since they are often poorly developed, which does not help visitors to discover all the Chinese art through the ages.
The palace currently houses over a million valuable old objects. The collections are generally divided into type of objects: painted pottery, jade, bronzes, paintings, calligraphy, porcelain, objets d'art, sculptures, lacquers, etc. There are six permanent exhibitions:
- Imperial Treasures
- Ceramics and porcelains
- Antique art objects
- Chinese paintings
The ceramic collection has been partly excavated since the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. It is constantly growing, with the museum buying new pieces regularly.
If the quality of the collections is not controversial, the scenography leaves something to be desired. The objects are presented are links between them, they are simply laid in the pavilions are a lot of explanations, the rooms are often dusty, with little lighting. This is the big drawback of this museum, so we understand why visitors prefer to visit the different pavilions to stay in one to admire objects little highlighted.
Note that the eastern gallery of the palace of earthly tranquility exhibits automata of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were part of the imperial collections. While some are Chinese-made, most are European (France, England, Germany, Switzerland). In the eastern interior annexes are what are called the six pavilions of the East, the former residence of concubines. Today, these pavilions are home to cultural relics, imperial office supplies (at Zhong Cui Palace) and handicrafts dating of the Ming era and Qing (at the Jing Yang Palace). The palace of celestial purity, in the inner courtyard, has two side galleries. They welcome ancient art objects . In the west, is the bronze room, and in the east, it is the room of ceramics and porcelain. The union and peace hall contains the 25 imperial seals giving access to superiors functions in the administration.
History of the collections
These collections are old, that is to say that they were created by the different emperors who lived in the forbidden city. These emperors were mostly literate people, in love with art. Often artists themselves, they protected within the palace even some artists who could create on-site workshops. All the works accumulated over time were displayed on the walls of the palace, in the parts that were not reserved for the Emperor: It may seem strange, but the latter representing the perfect being, he could not live surrounded by paintings whose features were not symmetrical (The symmetry is a golden rule in the Chinese imagination, the emperor being at center of everything)
During the Boxer revolts, between November 2, 1899 and September 7, 1901 the palace was invaded and part of the collections were stolen. But the main shortcomings come from the period of the Liberation War (1945-1949) in which six hundred thousand precious objects were transported to Taiwan at the request of the leader, Chiang Kai-shek. They are still there, at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.