Beijing opens first museum of literary classics

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A librarian from NLC shows how to make a rubbing pieces at the museum. (Photos by Wang Kaihao / China Daily)

After detailed restoration in a heavily guarded warehouse, the cream of China's literary works have finally found a home open to the general public with the official opening of the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijingon Tuesday.

The museum, established by the National Library of China after two years of preparation, is the country's first public institution to focus on exhibitions of ancient classic books.

"Ancient classic books are a historical witness of China's consistent civilization throughout thousands of years," said Han Yongjin, director of the library. "A combination of museum and library is an inevitable trend. The Chinese characters written on these ancient books have to be seen. Our readers will also thus get new experiences."

Han said the museum is home to 2.75 million copies of ancient classics (published before 1911), which include metal and stone rubbings, rare books and old maps, thanks to the library's huge collection of such items. The 800 most precious works are on display as an opening gift for visitors. This first exhibition, tentatively scheduled to run for three months, began to receive groups of visitors, numbering up to 2,000 people a day, on Aug 1. Individual visitors will be allowed from Sept 9, the 105th anniversary of the library's founding.

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