Palace Museum celebrates six centuries
Ancient compound teaches Chinese to face challenges with courage, composure
By Chen Xi and Zhao Yusha, Published: 2020/9/10 21:50:40
Six hundred years on, the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, does not only have cultural meaning for Chinese people, who believed they live in a world of unprecedented turmoil.
Chinese people said the museum, which has stood for hundreds of years in the bustling heart of China's capital Beijing through thick and thin, war and peace, sends a messages that no matter how the world changes, tradition won't die among Chinese people. It is this tradition of meeting changes with composure, bravery and unity that will enable Chinese people to go through other fights that await.
Thursday marked the 600th anniversary of the museum. To celebrate the big day, it generously offered cultural activities including seminars and forums, exhibitions and charity events, to illuminate the layout, architectural structure, protection and restoration of the former home of emperors. A total of 450 cultural relics were displayed to the public.
Although the exhibition only kicked off at 2 pm, many viewers lined up in the morning. Chen Shuyu, a student from the Capital University of Economics and Business, brought her mother who lives in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. "This is our first exhibition after the COVID-19 has been brought under control, and we are very excited to see the exhibition. I hope I could see some ancient utensils related to the Forbidden City," Yang said.
Kiki Chen, a scholar who studies cultural relics at Peking University, told the Global Times as she waited that the palace's 600th anniversary triggered special emotions for her in a world that has been thrown into unprecedented turmoil.
"This year our country was ravaged by the coronavirus; and then we are facing a crackdown from the US, which has even prompted rumors of a possible war between the two. But today I walked through the ancient walls of the Palace Museum, which has stood there 600 years, witnessed and suffered invasion from imperialism. Those invaders have gone or been transformed, but the palace is still there, and China and the Chinese people are still here," she said.
Zheng Zili, a 63-year-old man who visited the museum on Thursday, told the Global Times that the Palace Museum represented the massive cohesive force of Chinese history, "If someone looks back from 600 years later, we will be a small part of history, and China-US relations will also be a small part of history."
Peking University professor Zhang Yiwu told the Global Times that the Palace Museum has been revitalized to win over the young generations, and awaken their zeal and sharpen their understanding of traditional Chinese culture. Its influence has also expanded beyond China through conducting cultural cooperation with other countries, and it gradually became "the Palace Museum for the world."
Although the Palace Museum has long been stripped of its purpose of serving emperors, it has welcomed many leaders from other countries, including French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, and US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump.
Observers noted that with China's standing out as model of cultural revitalization, the iconic museum has served as a platform for countries with a rich history and culture to share their insights on protection and inheritance of relics. This has injected much energy into cultural exchanges between those countries.
In 2018, the Palace Museum signed an agreement with the Syrian Ministry of Culture to restore Syrian relics, which were destroyed in the war, and help train more of the country's professionals in the field of cultural relic conservation and museum management through programs in China.
Antonio, an Italian who lives in Palma, told the Global Times that he watched the movie The Last Emperor, which features Pu Yi, the last emperor who lived in the palace, several times when his country received assistance in fighting against COVID-19 from China in March.
"The director of the movie is also an Italian, who speaks highly of the Forbidden City. Before I only had vague ideas about the magnificent compound. But now, it becomes a dream for me to visit this place myself; since it is a reminder of how love can travel across distances and through cultures to warm people's hearts," he said.