In the early history of the National Palace Museum, its collection of painting and calligraphy came from the holdings of the former Qing dynasty court, which had amassed a vast treasure of artifacts down from the ages. After 1949, when the Republic of China government moved to Taiwan, a site in the Taipei suburb of Waishuangxi was found for the collection after several stopovers and a museum building constructed to serve as a new home for these treasures from the Qing palaces. The National Palace Museum officially opened its galleries to the public in 1965, thereby realizing the museum functions of education, collecting, and research. At the same time, the Museum undertook the purchase and acquisition of artifacts, accepting donations from various organizations and individuals to provide a solid foundation for the continued development of its collection. Thus, during subsequent decades, more than 6,000 works of painting and calligraphy have entered the Museum collection
Recent additions of painting and calligraphy to the National Palace Museum are also of considerable quality, including the works of Ming dynasty loyalists that had not been acquired by the Qing court. There are also examples from the imperial collection that previously were scattered among private hands and had an opportunity to return and receive proper treatment. As for additions of painting and calligraphy from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, not only have these expanded the timeline of the Museum’s holdings, their diverse range of styles also provides a microcosm of the tumultuous years in the late Qing and early Republican period. The expansion of the Museum’s collection of painting and calligraphy has kept up with the times and received considerable support from the private sector, which together with the Museum has continuously reinforced the deep roots of Chinese culture and is making strides towards a new era for the collection.
Looking back at this process of acquisition, the National Palace Museum would like to commemorate the generous donations that various individuals and organizations have selflessly made by specially selecting a gallery to serve for its exhibition of “A New Era for the Museum Collection.” Continuing the display of these donations over the years along with painting and calligraphy purchased after moving to Taiwan and authorized entrustments demonstrates the achievements of close cooperation between the government and society. The display here follows in this exhibit theme, presenting the works of modern painters and calligraphers active in the Beijing and Tianjin area at a time when the traditions of imperial China were gradually making way for modern views of government. With the rapid influx of Western culture, Qing loyalists and new thinkers were able to reach similar goals via different methods, continuing and preserving the essence of Chinese culture without going to extremes. In doing so, they allowed the arts of painting and calligraphy to grow and develop unimpeded, providing an outlook of vitality within tradition.
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