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The conservator took measurements

The object list was approved in July, by which time the design of the show cases was more or less in place. As the installation of the exhibition will happen on an unusually tight schedule, it was imperative that every aspect of the design be planned for in detail prior to the arrival of the exhibits. Therefore the V&A conservator Sam Gatley made a trip to the Palace Museum. The following is an account of her five-day sojourn in Beijing. Walking into the grounds of the Forbidden City for the first time was quite an extraordinary experience. Firstly you are …

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The object list

Both the V&A and the Palace Museum agreed that the exhibition should be on costumes and accessories. My first task as the exhibition curator was to draw up an object list. How did I set about doing that? As mentioned previously the Palace Museum is a historic site. The numerous palaces and halls were built for the emperors to live in, not for the display of artefacts. The robes are not on permanent display. Fortunately the Palace Museum has published two excellent books – one on their dress collection and one on their fabrics collection. They also mounted a special …

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The Palace Museum/V&A exchange

When I heard, back in May 2009, that an agreement on an exchange of exhibitions had been reached with the Palace Museum in Beijing I was both excited and apprehensive. There were good reasons to be excited – the Palace Museum is the custodian of all the things that once belonged to emperors and their immediate families. Everything in its collection is of ‘imperial’ quality. No artefacts used by commoners or low-ranking state officials would ever enter its storehouse. To a curator of Chinese art there is no better place to learn about court life and imperial taste. Birds eye …

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Shenzhen-Hong Kong Architecture Biennale

I've just got back from a very productive research trip to China. In addition to meetings with architects and designers in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, I spent a day at the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Architecture Biennale. Shenzhen is emblematic of China's recent urban development, being the very first city to be given special economic zone status (in 1979). Located at the far northern end of the Hong Kong MTRtrain system, Shenzhen is also one of the main gateways into mainland China. Making the trip to Shenzhen was particularly relevant forthe '1:1' exhibition as fourof the architects invited to submit concept …

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