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Forbidden City expands and travels: Chinese art news, 16-22 August

August 23, 2010

In time for the Forbidden City’s 600th anniversary in 2020, public access will more than double. Not only will visitors be able to see more of the former imperial palace, but physical pressure on the site and its relics will diminish:

The 30 percent of the Forbidden City open to the public – an area of about 216,000 square meters – has an ideal capacity of 30,000 people a day, Shan said. The actual number in extreme cases has been 130,000, with corrosive damage being left on the former home to 24 emperors.

Allowing tourists to visit more of the Forbidden City was a useful means of relieving the pressure, said He Shuzhong, chairman of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

“Endless foot treading makes the stone floor bumpy,” he said. “All that breathed-out air generated by massive numbers of tourists corrodes the buildings. Plus some tourists carve on the relics.

Currently, armchair tourists from around the world can visit the Forbidden City virtually through the Beyond Space and Time project, which will hopefully reflect the changes to the real site. Certain areas, such as the Qianlong Garden, will likely continue to remain restricted. But in September, 105 relics will make their global debut in the US, at the Peabody Essesx Museum.

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*ARTINFO China published a list of Beijing’s art-world power restaurants that bears an all-too-striking resemblance to a Sohu.com list of Beijing’s artist-run restaurants published five days earlier. Both articles could have benefited from some fact-checking: although I’m not in Beijing right now to confirm it in person, Chinese art critic Phil Tinari pointed out that Ai Weiwei’s “Qu Na’r” has been closed since 2008. But despite these gaffes, ARTINFO China also published a good resource last week: their pick of the top ten Chinese artists websites.

*Chinese contemporary art comes full circle, from its opening days at NAMOC to a retrospective of the past thirty years.

*The catalogue for Christie’s New York Chinese art sale (September 16) is now online.

*Yishu Journal of Chinese Contemporary Art launched its online archive and named Maya Kovskaya and Sheng Wei the first recipients of the Yishu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art.

*A legion of stone figures found in Hunan’s Guizai Valley not only outnumber Qinshihuang’s warriors, but some also predate the terracotta army by 2500 years.

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