For 600 years, the Forbidden City stood erected, silently witnessing the ebb and flow of the dynasties. Yesterday, for the first time in 94 years since the Forbidden City became known as the palace museum, its doors opened during the evening to the public with a splendid light show.
Feb. 19 of this year was the Lantern Festival in the Chinese lunar calendar, a traditional Chinese festival for family reunion. On this day, Chinese people are supposed to be getting together with their families, eating Yuan Xiao (sweet dumplings made with glutinous rice) and reminisce about the last highlights of the Chinese New Year celebration. It was also once known as a Chinese Valentine’s Day in ancient times.
“In the huge crowd with her on my mind,
high and low I searched but her I can’t find,
I turn around abruptly,
and to my surprise,
I see her there where the dim light shines.”
To match the occasion, classic Chinese poetry were projected onto the red palace walls, which makes for a very poetic scene and perfect spot for taking photos.
The grand ancient masterpiece of Along the River During the Qingming Festival and A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains were also projected on the golden glazed roof tiles of the palace.
Although the light show was supposed to be a beautiful and romantic occurrence, many intellectuals find the event somewhat excessive. Some posted on social media that the palace museum was decorated like a nightclub, with blinking lights and flashy movements, just without the deafening sounds of a dance floor. The modernistic light shows can also be seen in other tourist cities like Xi’an or Hangzhou, which deprives the palace of its inherent solemnity.
And even most importantly, it is really hard to get a ticket, only one out of every ten thousand could get inside, with the general public stuck outside the walls and only able to see the lights from outside.
The 600-year old palace museum has gone quite far on the path of “modernization”. From the Starbucks inside the palace to the newly built hot pot restaurant, the palace museum is opening up towards more commercial possibilities in one way or another.