The Imperial Palace - once off-limits to ordinary citizens and foreigners - now intends to host a new series of overseas exhibitions.
Li Ji, deputy curator of the Forbidden City in Beijing, also known in China as the Palace Museum, said here Thursday that the museum will host a series of foreign exhibitions over the next few years, as part of an effort to reinforce cooperation with international museums.
The British Museum's touring exhibition "Britain meets the world" will take place in 2007, and artifacts featuring Napoleon from the Louvre Museum and the masterpieces from the Russian State Hermitage Museum will be shown in 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics.
"All valuable exhibitions are welcome, but we will focus mainly on palace exhibitions from other countries. There is nowhere more suitable than here for that kind of exhibition," Li said at the Sino-U.S. Museum Forum.
As former imperial palace for the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) feudal dynasties, the Palace Museum has previously hosted exhibitions such as "Louis XIV: the Sun King-Treasures" from the Chateau de Versailles and Chinese ceramics from Swedish collections in 2005, and "Treasures from the Kremlin" in September this year.
"Hosting foreign exhibitions gives us an opportunity to promote inter-cultural exchange with other countries, as well as a chance to learn from our foreign counterparts, and establish a better image in the world," said Duan Yong, foreign affairs director with the museum.
According to Li Ji, hosting foreign exhibitions is only one aspect of promoting inter-cultural exchange.
"We have established partnerships with the Louvre Museum, the British Museum and the State Hermitage Museum, and are organizing exchange visits by curators, academic seminars, and cooperation in artifact conservation," Li said.
The Forbidden City, which became a museum in 1925, houses a collection of over 1.5 million artifacts, mainly from the ancient imperial court.
The labyrinthine complex, home to 24 emperors, their families and courtesans, and reputed to have 9,999 rooms, is one of China's best known icons and most popular tourist attractions. It is visited by 7 to 8 million tourists every year.
UNESCO listed the Forbidden City as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987.
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006)