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Scholar program aims to enhance cultural dialogue

By WANG KAIHAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-30 07:19
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Photo taken with a mobile phone shows a view in the Palace Museum in Beijing, Sept 1, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Director vows to make Palace Museum 'guest room' for civilizations' exchanges

The Palace Museum in Beijing announced on Monday the launch of a long-term academic exchange project, aiming to enhance cross-border cultural dialogues and mutual understanding.

The project, the Taihe Visiting Scholar Fellowship Program, will benefit researchers from academic institutions and museums at home and abroad and promote internationalization of studies surrounding the Palace Museum, according to the museum.

The Palace Museum, China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911 and also known as the Forbidden City, is home to over 1.86 million cultural relics and remains the world's largest surviving ancient architectural complex made of wood.

Taihe Dian, or the Hall of Supreme Harmony, where the most important ceremonies were held during the imperial years, is the highest-level palatial construction in the Forbidden City.

Wang Xudong, director of the museum, explained that choosing Taihe as the name of the program reveals an ideal to build a world of utmost harmony.

"The Forbidden City not only bears 600-odd years of history as a royal palace," Wang said. "It is also a microcosm of the brilliance of thousands of years of Chinese civilization. In the new era, it's our mission to find new ways to better usher Chinese culture to the rest of the world.

"We have a great vision to make this museum a 'guest room' for exchange and mutual learning of different civilizations," he said. "But it cannot be achieved merely by our own efforts. Openness is a must in this fast-changing world, and the spread of culture cannot be unidirectional. It has to be reciprocal."

According to the Palace Museum, the scholarship program will annually sponsor some scholars from overseas to conduct three to six months of research in the museum. Up to five international scholars will come to the museum in 2023.

On the other hand, several Palace Museum researchers will be sponsored by the program to stay three to 12 months in overseas institutions for their own academic projects. Up to five researchers will be involved in that program next year.

Wang pointed out that, as disputes and conflicts emerge in the modern world, such a program may help to dispel misunderstanding and build up trust among countries.

Applications for the program can now be made through the museum's website. The deadline for those applying this year is Oct 20.

The program includes management of museums, conservation of relics, organization of exhibitions, scientific research, digitization and development of cultural products.

The program is sponsored by the Hong Kong-based Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation, which has cooperated with the Palace Museum on several key projects, such as restoration of ancient architecture, youth education and expertise training. The foundation will provide about 12.8 million yuan ($1.85 million) to support the first five years of the program, from 2023 through 2027.

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