Taipei Palace Museum opens southern branch

Visitors attend an exhibition on Asian Buddhist artworks at the Southern Branch of Palace Museum in Chiayi, southeast China's Taiwan, Dec. 28, 2015. [Jiang Kehong/Xinhua]
A long-awaited new branch of Taipei's Palace Museum was inaugurated in Chiayi city of south Taiwan on Monday.
The project, with an area of about 68 hectares, is made up of a museum building, a green park and a lake. It costs more than 10.93 billion New Taiwan dollars (US$341 million) and the design and construction took about 11 years.
The new branch is a perfect birthday present for the 90-year-old Palace Museum in Beijing, said Fung Ming-chu, director of Taipei's Palace Museum.
Beijing's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, was inaugurated in 1925. Taipei's Palace Museum was built in 1965 based on about 600,000 pieces shipped from the mainland when the Kuomintang (KMT) fled to Taiwan in 1949 after its defeat in a civil war.
About 90 percent of the exhibits in the new branch are from the museum' s own collection but it will focus more on Asian art and culture, highlighting the diversity and exchanges among different countries and cultures in the region, Fung said.
The branch will also serve as a cultural and education center for residents in south Taiwan, she said.
Currently there are ten exhibitions in the new branch, including five regular, three special and two exhibitions of items borrowed from other museums.
At the exhibition on Asian Buddhist artworks, the museum presented the Tibetan Dragon Sutra, more than 50,000 pages of Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts, hand-written in gold ink and commissioned by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing dynasty in 1669. The sutra is a Tibetan translation of all teachings and laws by the Buddha himself.
According to Fung, the manuscripts, kept in 108 wooden cases, have never been fully displayed since the museum in Taipei did not have enough space.
Visitors are also able to view valuable jadeware of Qing emperors and blue-and-white porcelain made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as well as porcelain from the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The new branch is also exhibiting Asian textile and tea culture.

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