China has closed an 88-million dollar museum and “patriotic education center” after the majority of its exhibits were found to be fakes, including such classic pieces as a Qing dynasty vase decorated with cartoon characters, despite the protests of curators who insist “at least half” the exhibits are genuine.
The Jibaozhai Museum, a 4-storey museum built in 2007 on a 4-hectare village site in China’s Hebei province for the sum of 540 million yuan, boasted 12 exhibition halls and was designated a “patriotic education centre” and tourist attraction by the government.
However, it transpires that most, if not all, of its 40,000 exhibits and “20 million yuan” collection were fakes.
These included items identified as having been made by a legendary emperor from 2700BC but signed in modern post-revolutionary simplified Chinese characters, porcelain using techniques not in existence when they were supposedly made, and a Qing dynasty vase decorated with modern cartoon characters.
Officials have launched an investigation and withdrawn its license, and the museum itself is now closed.
The owner protests that “even the gods cannot tell whether the exhibits are fake or not,” whilst the deputy curator maintains that “at least half” the exhibits are genuine, although he does concede “most of the exhibits were not verified by experts.”
The museum was rumbled after a Beijing writer visited and expressed his scepticism about the descriptions of the exhibits on Sina Weibo, prompting local authorities to investigate in response to the massive ridicule they suffered as a result.
The museum was already unpopular with local villagers as they received only 20,000 yuan each for their land after it was sold to developers for millions, but their objections were of course ignored. They allege it was used as part of a money-laundering scheme by the local magnate who built it.