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Information Services DepartmentMore than 100 artefacts from the Palace Museum are now on display in the Hong Kong Science Museum to showcase the latest science and technology applied in artefact conservation.

600 Years of Forbidden City: Unveiling the Secrets of Artefacts at Hong Kong Science Museum

A special exhibition of rare treasures showcases the magical power of conservation

Time Out Hong Kong in partnership with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department
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Please note that the museum is temporarily closed until further notice.

Spanning centuries of ancient and modern history, the Forbidden City and its multitudinous palaces and courtyards contain countless numbers of rare artefacts and historical works of literature that give us a fascinating insight into our past. Preserving these treasures is the life’s work of many conservators, who use scientific principles and the latest advances in technology to help share their untold stories.

To commemorate the 600th anniversary of the world’s largest ancient palatial structure, more than 100 artefacts from the Forbidden City and the stories of their conservation will be on display at the Hong Kong Science Museum.

'The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series: Unlocking the Secrets - The Science of Conservation at The Palace Museum' is a special exhibition that gives visitors a chance to appreciate, in rare proximity, some of the world’s most dazzling antiquities, from metalwork, clocks, textiles, thangkas, woodenware, lacquerware and inlaid works to ceramics, calligraphy and paintings. Some of the items are recently restored that they’ve never been formally displayed to the public before - making this an especially exceptional event for hardcore history buffs. 

Palace Museum

The bronze phoenix (pictured above), which is on display for the first time, demonstrates the conservation steps including corrosion removal and repairing of the missing and broken parts of metal artefacts. 

Alongside hands-on interactive exhibits, a multitude of programmes including workshops by conservators at the Palace Museum and family-friendly guided tours that feature plays and storytelling etc, bring to light to the visitors the incredible work of artefact conservation.

 

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The exhibition shows the setting of a conservation laboratory with interactive exhibits. Visitors can role-play as a conservator, examine artefacts and experience how it is like to be a conservator.

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Visitors can have a hands on experience and learn more about traditional crafts and techniques like weaving or woodworking through various interactive exhibits of the exhibition.

The Emperor Holding Court in the Imperial Winter Palace, Peking is one of the conservation cases conducted by the Conservation Office in Hong Kong.

Local restorations achieved include the 18th century trade painting, The Emperor Holding Court in the Imperial Winter Palace, Peking. Pictured above, it is one of the conservation cases conducted by the Conservation Office in Hong Kong, provides an incredible glimpse into the inner workings of the palace. Present-day conservators used infrared and ultraviolet fluorescence imaging to identify its underdrawings and pentimenti (alterations to a painting that have been masked and painted over), and distinguish between the original and old restorations of the painting respectively. 

The large scale model of the century-old No. 313 historical train coach (below) reveals the difficulties behind the conservation of large-scale metal artefacts in Hong Kong.

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Palace Museum

The pastel court robe with satin embroidery (pictured above) requires intricate needle-and-thread done by hand. The crack base of the exquisite carved red lacquer globular vase (below),  is reinforced by applying multiple lacquer layers onto its lacquer missing areas and restored to its original appearance.

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Palace Museum

Jointly organised by the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Palace Museum and the Conservation Office, and solely sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the exhibition runs until March 18 at the Hong Kong Science Museum in the Exhibition Hall on the ground floor. Admission is $30, and free for Museum Pass holders. For more information, please visit their website, or call 2732 3232 for enquiries.

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