• The Cining Palace is one of four areas of the Palace Museum recently opened to the public.

The Cining Palace is one of four areas of the Palace Museum recently opened to the public. (Photo : www.asianewsphoto.com)

Beijing’s Palace Museum, which is housed inside the Forbidden City, is just 10 years short of celebrating its centennial year. The museum, which was established on Oct. 10, 1925, recently celebrated its 90th year.

The Palace Museum has become synonymous with Chinese culture in different parts of the world.

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As part of its birthday celebration, the Palace Museum opened four new sections where unseen treasures will be glimpsed by visitors for the first time. As a result, 65 percent of the palace complex is now accessible to the public.

Before it became an iconic "must-see," the Palace Museum had treasures that were spread in different sites, some of which were occupied by other institutions. The lack of completeness, as well as the compromised integrity of the site, became a major issue in the 21st century.

Former director Zheng Xinmiao, who watched over the museum between 2002 and 2012, started the process of arranging and curating display items in 2004. It was after he discovered that a watch, originally part of an emperor's saddle, was taken and lent to a watch museum.

After six hard years of work, the collection was finally together. Thousands of artifacts had been sorted and grouped accordingly.

"Many of us broke into tears when the job was done," said Zheng.

Another major problem for the museum was theft as well as damage done by visitors.

"It's no easy job being director of this museum," said Shan Jixiang, the current director of the Palace Museum. Appointed in 2012, Shan inspects all 9,000 rooms of the sprawling museum to get a clear picture of the Palace's situation.

"Integrity is the key to a sustainable and fascinating museum. I just hope that we can maintain the integrity of the museum for another 90 years," Shan shared.