Exhibition Showcasing Chinese Qing Empresses' Lives to Open in Washington

 March 17, 2019

U.S. State Department said here on Friday that an exhibition showing the lives of the empresses of China's Qing Dynasty will be on view later this month in Washington.

"Empresses of China's Forbidden City, 1644-1912" will be open for media preview at the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler institution on March 28, prior to its public opening two days later, according to an email sent to journalists by the Washington Foreign Press Center under the U.S. State Department.

The show, the largest in 10 years for the U.S. museum of Asian art, "reveals the untold stories of Qing Dynasty empresses through nearly 135 objects made for, by, and about them," the email read.

"Of the some two dozen empresses from the period, the exhibition focuses on five who helped shape the dynasty and left a lasting impact and legacy," the State Department noted, "for the time, these women held power and the exhibition explores their influence through religion, art, and politics."

In a separate statement issued earlier on March 5, the Freer|Sackler said that the "major international exhibition, the largest at the Freer|Sackler in more than a decade, explores empresses' lives during the emperor-centric Qing dynasty."

"Despite the empresses' accomplishments and status, they are largely missing from Qing court history," it said. "Through imperial portraits, narrative paintings, furnishings, attire (jewelry and costume) and religious art, the exhibition reveals and fills in the little-known details about the world of these women and how they were able to influence court history in many spheres, including religion, art and politics."

It added that the objects to be on display would enable visitors to "look behind the walls of the Forbidden City" and bring these imperial women "out of the silence that history imposed upon them."

The majority of the objects on display, including rare treasures that have never been on view in the United States, come from the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, according to the Freer|Sackler.

As part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations, the exhibition, which will continue till June 23, is organized by three institutions of the two nations, namely, the Freer|Sackler, the Palace Museum in China and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

David Skorton, head of the U.S. Smithsonian Institution, said in a previous interview with Xinhua that "our Smithsonian continues to be very active in China."

"You'll be very impressed about how many things that we have been doing and are doing right now and there are more things being planned," he said. "We continue to be very interested in working with Chinese colleagues and in doing studies together where we can do partnerships together."

"Cultural institutions continue to want to work together," he said, adding that he remains optimistic about the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States in the future.

(Source: Xinhua)

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