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National Palace Museum

The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective

The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective, cohosted by the National Palace Museum (NPM) and The Palace Museum, is a special exhibition that introduces moving images of the past and fascinating reflections of history. With a draw that transcends even historical documents, these photographic images enable the future generation to have a closer look into the past.

The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective special exhibition was made possible because of a renowned Taiwanese photographer by the name of Zhuang Ling. To show old-generation photographers the respect that they deserve and restore old images that are gradually disappearing, Zhuang submitted a proposal to the directors of the two aforementioned museums suggesting the organization of a photography exhibition displaying old Qing court photographs owned by The Palace Museum, to which the two directors pleasantly approved. The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective was subsequently hosted to allow museum visitors to observe how these images retell the past, give the "moments" eternal life, preserve the essence of old times, and touch future generations by introducing historical settings via powerful visual effects.

The NPM, founded in 1925, moved to Waishuanghsi, Taipei in 1965. During the 40 years in between, the NPM witnessed the tumult of war, the separation of artifacts, and unprecedented changes. Now, nearly one century later, more than 400 historical images have been carefully organized and presented in the exhibition brochure to allow visitors to uncover the history of the NPM as well as explore the differences and similarities between old and new ideologies. Contrary to the use of historical documents commonly observed in museums, visually informative images are utilized instead to retell the changes of the NPM over nearly a hundred years, reminding visitors the importance of history.

Photography is an art in itself. Not only is it a vehicle carrying information such as the "who, what, where, when, and why" of events, but also a means for recording and presenting history that go beyond traditional text. It adds color to plain historical documents and allows viewers to examine social situations at each respective time in the past, allowing them to witness the growth and development of the NPM.
The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective
The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: A Photographic Retrospective