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Public Opinion: Beijing Guggenheim Museum Should Not Be “ Inserted” in Huang Shi Cheng (Qing Dynasty Imperial Archives)

Plan of Beijing Guggenheim Museum

Recently, a Chinese architecture design studio announces their plan for Beijing Guggenheim Museum. As stated by the architect, “The contemporary insertions into the complex are designed to impact minimally on the fabric and character of Huang Shi Cheng, whilst being completely distinct from the existing structure in form and appearance. Although the new exhibition buildings aim to maximize available space in their strategic locations, they are self-contained structures that make no contact with the historic buildings around them.” This design had caused a lot of controversy once reported by the sina miniblog of China Museum Magazine. In order to give the public a chance to share their concerns, and to help the public opinion being heard effectively, Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) has sent out an open invitation, so those who are concerned about the public interest on this cultural heritage preservation issue can participate in the discussion.

After the discussion, consensus has been formed, and everyone agrees that, Huang Shi Cheng, which was used to keep the imperial decrees, historical records and archives, is one of the most sacred heritage buildings in the Ming & Qing Dynasty Imperial City. Its main entrance, main hall, east & west annex buildings, as well as its imperial tablet pavilion were all built with traditional brick and stone structures; and it is now still surrounded by an old purple wall, and is one of the most intact buildings inside the Ming & Qing Imperial City. In order to protect Huang Shi Cheng, the Chinese government has listed it as the National Level Heritage Site, and has included it as the most important site to be protected in the Imperial City Preservation Plan. According to the Cultural Relics Protection Law, any construction project irrelevant to the protection of the site within the compound of Huang Shi Cheng should strictly be prohibited. If this design is to be implemented, it will be an illegal project. It will not merely be disrespectful for the historical value and artistic value of Huang Shi Cheng, but even a total intrusion and occupation. This plan has shown the disparaging attitude of the architects towards laws, and their intention to exploit on historical resources, with no sympathy for our past.

We all agree that, when facing challenges in preserving a historical monument, the humble attitude embraced by Confucianism should be its basic moral principle. If we leave aside the high moral values, we should at least observe the principle of equality and abide the law. We appeal the government to take up its full responsibilities and protect Huang Shi Cheng strictly by ruling out the plan for “inserting” the Beijing Guggenheim Museum. We also suggest that Huang Shi Cheng should be opened to the public as early as possible, so its historical and artistic value can be appreciated by the public and fully realize its social educational functions. This is also the responsibility of the government.

At the same time, we still have confidence towards the Guggenheim Museum, as we believe that the prestigious Guggenheim Museum would not be happy to see its Chinese partners conducting anything that might cause damage to the Chinese cultural heritage. We believe the Beijing Guggenheim Museum, should it choose to move to another site, will find peace and harmony with the Beijing old city, and the Chinese historical monuments.

For more information, please click http://en.bjchp.org/?p=5075

2012-06-30

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