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Yuan Ming Yuan: Reanimating the Past

Using state-of-the-art digital technology, an exhibition at Liang Yi Museum reanimates the Old Summer Palace.

Yuan Ming Yuan: Reanimating the Past

Beijing’s Old Summer Palace boasted some of China’s finest imperial gardens, as well as beautiful structures inspired by 18th-century Western architecture. A fire sadly destroyed much of the grounds and the buildings in 1860, leaving little behind – something recent exhibition Yuan Ming Yuan: Qing Emperor’s Splendid Gardens aims to address.

Held at Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road from 8 to 16 December, the exhibition makes clever use of interactive digital technology to transform a dilapidated site into a vibrant space. Taiwanese digital content design firm Bright Ideas Design was behind the technology on display at Yuan Ming Yuan, bringing the gardens, the fountains and much more to life through interactive installations, animations and original artefacts. Visitors to the exhibition were transported through time and space, getting an insight into the regional architectural styles of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

Yuan Ming Yuan, Liang Yi MuseumErnst Ohlmer’s photograph of the southern side of Xieqiqu at Yuan Ming Yuan

Driven by the Cultural and Creative Industry Promotion Center of Haidian District, Beijing, the exhibition was also significant as the future fate of Yuan Ming Yuan is under consideration. What will happen to the grounds is in question: will China re-create the gardens and architectural structures? This is apparently unlikely: any reproduction would be a poor imitation of these once splendorous spaces.

Qing Emperors Splendid Garden 5One of twelve zodiac sculptures that populated the amazing, time-telling fountain in the gardens of the Old Summer Palace. Many of the original sculptures have been lost

Yuan Ming Yuan has already been to Beijing, Hangzhou and Taipei; after Hong Kong, the Cultural and Creative Industry Promotion Center hopes to take the exhibition on an international tour.

Liang Yi Museum is a private museum dedicated to heritage, arts and culture. It’s also home to an impressive collection of Chinese antique furniture, among other antiquities.

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