Taiwan’s National Palace Museum to open first-ever joint exhibition with China

Friday, October 2, 2009

Taiwan museum to open joint exhibition with China

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s National Palace Museum said Friday it will open its first-ever joint exhibition with China next week, 60 years after they split amid civil war.

The exhibition reunites treasures from China with those that Beijing has long said were stolen when they were taken to Taiwan.

In the last stages of the Chinese civil war, the forces of Nationalist strongman Chiang Kai-shek moved 600,000 items of Chinese calligraphy, porcelain, bronzes, landscape paintings, portraiture and figurines from the imperial collection in Beijing’s Forbidden City to Taiwan.

The massive transfer created the world’s greatest museum of Chinese art in Taiwan.

China says the art — and Taiwan itself — rightfully belongs to Beijing.

Relations, however, have improved in the 16 months under Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, who has focused on expanding exchanges with China.

The Taiwan museum has borrowed 37 relics from the Palace Museum in Beijing for its exhibition on Qing Dynasty Emperor Yongzheng from the 18th century. The pieces include an imperial stone seal with the inscription “Being an emperor is difficult,” and a massive Yongzheng portrait.

“We decided on a joint exhibition on Emperor Yongzheng partly because we have a rich collection from the period ourselves, partly because we want to carry out the government’s policy” toward China, Taiwanese museum director Chou Kung-shin said.

Last February, Chou became the first director of the museum to visit Beijing’s Forbidden City in 60 years and won the Beijing museum’s consent for cooperation.

The exhibition opens Oct. 7 and runs for three months.

Taiwan has long said the transfer of art to the island was necessary to save China’s cultural heritage from Mao Zedong’s Communists, and has long been reluctant to lend China artifacts out of fear that they would not be returned.

Chou declined to say whether China would be allowed to borrow pieces from her museum.

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