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China imperial treasures shown first time in U.S. at Virginia Museum of Fine Art

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Embassy of China July 16 announced that "Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum", an exhibit of 200 precious items never before allowed outside China, will be shown at the Richmond museum Oct. 18-Jan. 11.

'Looking into a mirror', from Women at Leisure series, early 18th century, anonymous court artist, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735) Hanging scrolls; ink and color on silk.
'Looking into a mirror', early 18th century, anonymous court artist. ©The Palace Museum. In 'Forbidden City' exhibit

The exhibit, including magnificent paintings on silk, costumes, furniture, jade, and bronzes, dating back as far as the 14th century, will appear solely at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA).

In the unique cultural exchange, the VMFA also will become the first U.S. art museum to exhibit works from its permanent collection at the Palace Museum. The VMFA's Fabergé collection -- the largest and finest outside Russia -- will be displayed in Beijing's historic Meridian Gate in May 2016. In addition, the Richmond Ballet, Virginia's state ballet company, will perform in four cities in China in 2015.

"Forbidden City" will offer a rare journey through a palace once forbidden to the public, and provide a view of this hidden world from the Ming (1368–1644) Dynasty through the Qing (1644–1911) Dynasty.

VMFA director Alex Nyerges told Chinese Embassy guests, including Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia 3rd District), that the museum is "excited about bringing this world to Virginia, and making the world smaller, and bringing two worlds and two peoples together."

The embassy's deputy chief of mission Lu Kang also told guests that "Culture has a unique power to bring people together."

Nyerges noted that the Palace Museum is the world's largest and most visited museum, by some 14 million people each year -- "more than the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum combined."

The exhibit is organized by the Palace Museum and the VMFA. The exhibition is curated by Li Jian, VMFA's E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art.

"Virginia has 400 years of history, and China has more than 4,000 years of history," VMFA's Nyerges commented. "We are humbled by being here" in its embassy.

Then, guests feasted on Kung Pao chicken, sweet and sour fish, hot short ribs, cold noodles, deep-fried sesame balls, and many other Chinese delicacies.

For more info: "Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum", Oct. 18-Jan. 11, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, http://vmfa.museum, 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond, Virginia. 804-340-1400. Embassy of China, designed by two sons of Chinese American architect I.M. Pei. Air China began non-stop service between Washington's Dulles Airport and Beijing in June.