Individual Media Tours for the Exhibition “Palace Life Unfolds: Conserving a Chinese Lacquer Screen”

June 15, 2023

WHAT: Individually scheduled press tours for “Palace Life Unfolds: Conserving a Chinese Lacquer Screen”
WHEN: [Open to the public] July 15–Jan. 28, 2024
WHERE: Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Ave. S.W.
WHO: Jan Stuart, Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art
Strahan, head of conservation and scientific research
Ellen Chase, objects conservator

Members of the media are invited to view the exhibition “Palace Life Unfolds: Conserving a Chinese Lacquer Screen.” On display for the first time after a major conservation project, this Chinese lacquer screen dated to 1672 newly reveals intricate pictorial details that had been obscured by centuries of wear and use. The composition, “Spring Morning in the Han Palace,” presents an idealized, ahistorical view of the lives of women in an imperial palace of the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). This exhibition examines the screen’s meaning and use in China, the techniques of its manufacture and the efforts of museum staff to research and conserve this work of art. It also explores the popularity of such screens as imported luxuries in Europe.

This screen has not been exhibited since 1976 due to its fragile condition. It was brightly colored when it was first created, but over the years the painted areas darkened and flaked, old restorations became discolored and cracks developed. The museum’s concern for its condition and the decision to exhibit it initiated a major treatment campaign. This conservation project was the first chance to work on all panels together as a cohesive object, and it also provided an opportunity to conserve the screen and to determine how and from what materials it was originally made.

Note to editors: Media may contact Jennifer Mitchell at for more information or to schedule a time to interview the curators and tour the exhibition.

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Fax: (202) 633-0043

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