The Qianlong Garden within the iconic Forbidden City in Beijing, China, will open to the public for the first time with an Interpretation Center, as part of a restoration partnership between the Palace Museum and the World Monuments Fund.
The Interpretation Center will be designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf, and will be located in an existing, restored structure in the second courtyard of the Qianlong Garden.
There an exhibition space to present the eighteenth-century design and creation of the Qianlong Garden, as well as information on conservation of the complex and open space with an unobstructed view of the rockeries for visitors to peacefully contemplate.
The project is set to be completed in 2020.
The Qianlong Garden was built by the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty between 1771 and 1776 to serve as part of his planned retirement complex. Its buildings have never been opened to the public.
Lisa Ackerman, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the World Monuments Fund, said: “We are honored to partner with Annabelle Selldorf on this incredibly significant project—one that will give the general public unprecedented access to one of China’s most important historic sites. Annabelle’s talent and vision paired with her passion for architecture and history are sure to produce an unforgettable experience for visitors to the Qianlong Garden.”
Annabelle Selldorf, Principal of Selldorf Architects, said: “Projects like the new Interpretation Center at the Qianlong Garden, that bring people together in a spirit of inquiry and inclusiveness, are at the core of our practice. It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with World Monuments Fund to create an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Gardens and experience their beauty and wonder first-hand.”
Juanqinzhai – the Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service
WMF began working with the Palace Museum in 2002 to restore the Qianlong Gardens, and has also provided a training programme for Chinese conservators. In 2008, WMF and the Palace Museum completed the conservation of the first pavilion, Juanqinzhai, or the Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service.
The most visited museum in the world
Beijing’s Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, has become the most visited museum in the world, welcoming 17 million visitors.
40% of visitors are under 30 years old, and 24% are between 30 and 40.
The ongoing expansion project plans to enhance the museum’s capacity. It is called the North Museum Project.
The museum’s online souvenir shop, which features Forbidden City-related items, made one billion yuan ($150 million) on Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace in 2016. The unexpected hit at the shop this year was a range of 3D-printed lipsticks, featuring auspicious patterns.
This week, the museum will open an emperor-themed hotpot eatery named Corner Tower.
Image: World Monument Fund