Henan Museum Closes its Main Exhibition Hall on July 14 and Seeks a New Home for the “Nine Most Precious Treasures of the Museum”

Recently, Henan Museum announced in a press conference that it will close down the main exhibition for maintenance since July 14 and the expected duration of the construction was 18 months. As an important window in cultural museum and tourism sectors of Henan Province, Henan Museum receives over 2 million visitors each year. During the closing of the museum, where will the cultural relics including the “Nine Most Precious Treasures of the Museum” go? Will the museum still be open for visitors? What will be upgraded and transformed in this 18-month construction project?

What will be repaired in this closed maintenance project? This closed maintenance project of Henan Museum, which is filled with various national treasures and attracts numerous visitors, will draw the attention of people all over China. Last June, there were rumors that the museum would be closed for maintenance for two years. Later, official news refuted the rumors and claimed that the time was not determined. Yesterday, the news was finally confirmed: This national key museum will be closed for upgrading and transformation, which is the second time since the museum was relocated in 1998.  

From February to November 2009, Henan Museum invested over RMB 37 million in the upgrading project of exhibition system and service facilities in the main exhibition hall. During the project, over 3,000 km2 of exhibition area was added and the number of cultural relics was increased to over 4,000 items from previous 2,000 ones—the museum’s scale was almost doubled. It has only been six years since its last upgrade, why did the museum upgrade and transform again?  

“The two upgrading and transformation projects focus on different contents,” said Ding Fuli, the Deputy Secretary of Party Committee of Henan Museum. In this maintenance project, only small changes will be made to the exhibition area and content. The main purpose is to improve the anti-seismic ability and appearance of the main exhibition hall, in which external stone material and glass curtain wall will be changed, waterproof layer and insulating layer will be updated and the anti-seismic ability of the building will be strengthened. Meanwhile, the interior of the exhibition hall will expand its service space for visitors; for example, four courtyards will be developed as leisure and interaction space for visitors. The expected duration of the project is 18 months.  

Ding Fuli said, the public service facilities in Henan Museum are not capable of satisfying public requirements as they have been in operation under high loads for a very long time. In the past, the museum received 300,000 visitors each year. However, since the museum was open to public for free since 2008, there were over 3 million visitors in the last two years. Besides, the museum added over 30 temporary exhibitions each year, yet the number of which was zero in the past. In recent years, the development trend for museums is to increase interactive and public service functions, which has been written in The Museum Ordinance issued this year. Currently, several domestic large museums, including National Museum of China, Henan Museum and Nanjing Museum, are being or already upgraded and transformed. And the upgrading and transformation projects of these museums all focus on interactive functions.  

The first closed transformation project only took 8 months, why would it take a year and a half this time? Ding Fuli told the reporters that as the focus of this maintenance project is on the exterior of the museum, the project is very complicated. Besides, it will take a very long time to complete various procedures of the project, including removal of cultural relics, demolishing walls, detection, design, assessment, submitting for approval, invitation for bids, and construction  

What are the exhibits for visitors during the construction period? Most of the over 4,000 pieces of cultural relics in the main exhibition hall will be removed to the storehouse. However, the museum organized Cultural Relics Exhibition of Central Plains Treasures in Donglin Hall when it was closed for maintenance in 2009. Similarly, after the main exhibition hall is closed, temporary exhibition hall of Xipei Building will organize an exhibition called “All-Embracing Central Plains—Treasure Exhibition featuring Ancient Henan Culture.”

According to Director of Exhibition Department of Henan Museum, Li Qin, this exhibition carefully chooses 145 items of cultural relics from the previous exhibition items, including five of “the Nine Most Precious Treasures of the Museum”, namely, “Jiahu Bone Flute”, “Duling Rectangular Tripod”, “Iron Sword with Jade Handle”, “Gold Slip for Absolving Sin” and “Ruyao Sky Blue Glaze Carving Goose Neck Bottle”. This also means that the visitors will not be able to see the famous “Square Ewer with Design of Lotus and Crane”, “Bronze Jin with Cloud Design”, “Fuhao Owl-Shaped Bronze Zun” and “Mural Painting of Four Animals in Clouds” in one and a half years. However, these treasures, especially “Mural Painting of Four Animals in Clouds”, can take the time to “rest” and be maintained. During the exhibition, Henan Museum will make certain adjustments to the exhibited cultural relics as the circumstances may require.  

Here is a kind reminder: As the exhibition area of Xipei Building is limited, only 300 people will be allowed into the exhibition hall each hour. Besides, tour guides of other units are forbidden to make explanations and use amplification device. As for the safety issues involved in the large-scale removal of cultural relics, Li Qin said that most of the domestic museums upgrade and transform in every eight or ten years, which benefits Henan Museum a lot by communicating with fellow colleagues. Besides, the cultural relics in Henan Museum have been removed twice in the past two decades: relocating in 1998 and closed transformation in 2009. The Museum has accumulated rich experiences in terms of removal of cultural relics, so the safety issues will not be a problem.  

What about other activities? In addition to permanent exhibitions in the main exhibition hall, there are a lot of temporary exhibitions and popular interactive education and performance programs, for example, Central Plains Chinese Studies Forum, History Classroom, Huaxia Orchestra Performance, etc. Will there still be these activities? According to Ding Fuli, Central Plains Chinese Studies Forum and History Classroom will continue, while the time for Huaxia Ochestra performance will be adjusted to one performance in the second multi-functional hall of Xipei Building on 11:00 am on every Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, temporary exhibitions hosted or undertaken by Henan Museum will be staged in Henan Art Gallery. Currently, The photographic Exhibition in Memory of the 50th Anniversary of the Construction of Water System in Hongqi Canal and Value his own old broomstick—Comic Fair of Feng Zikai are on display.  

For the cultural relics to get more “exposure rate” during the time the museum is closed, as “All-Embracing Central Plains” exhibition remains in the museum, some of the cultural relics will begin a round trip to the world. Ding Fuli said: “Currently, we have confirmed that the cultural relics will be exhibited in Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Xinjiang, Beijing, Taiwan, Italy and Cyprus. This is the first time in the museum’s history that so many exhibition items go out at once.”



Copyright by Zhengzhou Municipal Tourism Administration