The construction work of the Palace Museum’s branch formally kicked off on October 11th in Beijing's northwestern outskirts. The branch will cover 62 hectares in the north of Haidian District, and it will serve as satellite institution of the complex that was China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911, also known as the Forbidden City.
The branch will include an exhibition space of 35,000 square meters, a conservation center for cultural relics of 20,000 square meters and a warehouse of 23,000 square meters, according to Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum. The conservation center may be ready for visits by the public in 2020, when 600th birthday of the Forbidden City falls, Shan said.
The new branch will help improve the service and expand the rooms to display the collections of the Palace Museum. The lack of sufficient exhibition space has been a lingering problem for the museum, which houses about 1.86 million cultural relics."Our collections of large items, like the huge number of tapestries and sedan chairs, particularly need exhibition spaces," Shan said. "It's currently impossible to display them in the Forbidden City, but the new museum will offer good conditions to put them on display."
The director said the new museum will also become a hub for studying the horticulture of the imperial age. Support infrastructure such as subway access also is planned. Shan said he expects the museum branch to receive 3 million annual visits.