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Make traditional treasures come alive, says Palace Museum director

By Zhang Xingjian | | Updated: 2018-03-01 10:59
Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum. [Photo provided to]

The Palace Museum Director Shan Jixiang delivered a cultural heritage speech Feb 27 in Beijing, which was co-organized by the Beijing Diplomatic Service Bureau and Beijing Housing Service Corporation for Diplomatic Missions. A total of 600 people from all walks of life, including over 100 foreign guests, participated in the activity.

On the theme The World of the Palace Museum and the Palace Museum of the World, the 64-year-old director shared his ideas about how to make traditional treasures come alive again.

During the speech, which lasted two and a half hours, Shan touched on topics including upgrading museum infrastructure, restoring cultural relics, digitalizing online museums, setting up restoration hospitals, providing better visitor experiences and promoting the Palace Museum's cultural items.

“The abundant collection of cultural relics at the Palace Museum is the inspiration for the creative souvenirs and cultural items available,” Shan said. “Our design teams often study consumer demands and create cultural items that are aesthetically pleasing and practical to use," Shan said.

Audiences focus on Shan Jixiang’s speech. [Photo provided to]

Throughout 2017, the total sales of Palace Museum's cultural items have exceeded 1 billion yuan ($158million). Explaining the huge success of Palace Museum’s cultural souvenirs, Shan said: “The museum opened a shop on the e-commerce website Taobao in 2008, but sales remained lukewarm for years, as more than 80 percent of the souvenirs sold in stores in the past were not related to our museum.”

“Therefore, I wanted to change the situation. Now, souvenirs from the Palace Museum cover almost every aspect of life. After all, what matters to a museum is not how many visitors they have, but how close they are to people's daily lives.”

With regard to cultural heritage restoration, Shan said the museum opened a restoration hospital at the end of 2016, which employs around 200 "doctors" to analyze, examine, detect flaws or damage in relics and restore them using more than 100 pieces of specialized equipment, including 3-D printers and scanners.

“The restoration hospital covers 13,000 square meters and boasts the nation's most advanced restoration workshops. Traditional craftsmanship is combined with modern methods, and the lives of cultural relics will be prolonged by the ‘doctors’,” Shan added.

John Aquilina, Malta’s ambassador to China. [Photo provided to]

“I must say that Shan’s speech is the most informative speech I have ever heard in Beijing as it shows a totally different Palace Museum to foreign people. In the future, I will spare more time to visit the Palace Museum and learn more about Chinese culture from the magnificent ancientartifacts,” said John Aquilina, Malta’s ambassador to China.

Jiang Qi, executive deputy director general of the Beijing Diplomatic Service Bureau. [Photo provided to]

“I really gained a lot from hearing Shan’s speech and I have the desire to visit the Palace Museum after the activity concludes. China enjoys a long and profound culture and many of the national treasures have been preserved at the Palace Museum. It is no easy task to preserve them well and I truly express my respect for Shan and his team for their contributions in the past years,” said Jiang Qi, executive deputy director general of the Beijing Diplomatic Service Bureau.

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