Trace Old Summer Palace's relics to overseas museums

09:11, October 20, 2009      

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A photographer takes a picture of the Chinese bronze rat head and rabbit head sculptures displayed at the preview of the auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge's art collection at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, February 21, 2009. China will send an expert team to trace and document relics taken from the Old Summer Palace that are now in foreign countries.[Xinhua]

On October 18, a program was launched to collect information on relics that have been lost from the Old Summer Palace and are currently preserved overseas. Next month, personnel from the Yuanmingyuan Management Office and experts from Tsinghua University will go to the U.S., their first stop on a tour to find as many lost relics from the Old Summer Palace as they can, and send relevant information on China’s national treasures back to China in forms such as images.

The number of relics lost is believed to amount to at least 1.5 million pieces

According to Chen Mingjie, director of the Yuanmingyuan Management Office, since 1860, relics, except for those destroyed during the burning of the Old Summer Palace, have been continuously lost in various ways, but best part of them have been preserved overseas particularly in European countries such as UK and France. There are also numerous relics in the U.S. and Japan.

Chen added that the list of articles stored in the Old Summer Palace was destroyed in the fire, so it cannot be precisely determined how many relics the Old Summer Palace once stored. Currently, there is not a complete list in existence recording how many relics from the Old Summer Palace still exist or where they are now being preserved. The information acquired so far shows that there are at least 1.5 million various types of relics from the Old Summer Palace that have been lost at home and abroad.

Search program for cultural relics will be divided into three parts

Reporters learned that this program is the first of its kind carried out by the Old Summer Palace. It will be divided into three parts: a journey to the U.S., a journey to Europe and a journey in Asia. Of them, the journey to the U.S. will be launched first and is expected to start in November. The program’s main aim is to learn the situation of the looted Old Summer Palace cultural relics, documents and old pictures, and take videos and photographs of those cultural relics and bring them home. This will help in researching the Old Summer Palace, and historical documents can be used in the Old Summer Palace re-construction project.

Chen said that the U.S. preserves at least over a hundred old pictures of the Old Summer Palace, most of which have never been made public. The activity will mainly focus on three cities in the U.S.: Washington D.C., Boston and New York.

Cultural relics and materials to be exhibited in 2010

According to the plan, the journey searching for looted cultural relics in the U.S. will be completed by the end of 2009. In 2010, searching for looted cultural relics in Europe and Asia (mainly in Japan) will begin.

By carrying out this search, the Old Summer Palace will improve the construction of its database of cultural relics and materials. It will also hold a large-scale exhibition of cultural relics and materials in the second half of 2010. Meanwhile, a large-scale picture album of the Old Summer Palace’s cultural relics preserved in foreign countries will also be published.

Chen said that he also hopes that after this activity, the Old Summer Palace will be able to cooperate with some overseas museums and organizations and jointly hold Old Summer Palace cultural relics exhibitions, so that these cultural relics will be able to be exhibited in China.

By People's Daily Online
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