The only Western-style building in China's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, a vast former imperial palace, will undergo an 18-month renovation, the museum's curator has said.
Built in 1915, the Baoyun Building is the only Western-style compound area and encompasses three two-story buildings and a gate left from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
It covers about 1,650 square meters and has been used to store numerous relics, thus the name "Baoyun," which literally means "treasure containing."
At Tuesday's launch ceremony for the repair project, curator Shan Jixiang noted the damage of varying degrees suffered by Baoyun's tiles, wooden structures, exterior and interior decorations, paintings and floors, stressing that "scientific and discreet renovation is urgently needed."
According to Shan, repair technicians will stick to the principle of "not altering the original state of cultural relics," and will try their best to use original crafts and methods and keep innate components to ensure style consistency.
After the planned completion in May 2015, Baoyun will mainly be used for exhibition, while some areas will be set aside for cultural research and academic exchanges, Shan added.
Renovation of Baoyun is part of a larger repair and construction movement that will cover some 13,025 square meters in the museum's western area, which Shan described as "suffering serious damage and containing great safety risks."
According to Shan, the overall project, due to wrap up in March 2016, is based on historical records, experts' advice and designs of similar areas in the museum.
The project aims to provide more space and convenience for relic protection, said Shan, adding that newly constructed buildings will house the museum's cultural protection technology department, which is currently using ancient buildings as offices.
Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was home to China's emperors and was the highest center of power for about 500 years. It attracts more than 14 million visitors annually.