Summary of How China’s Palace Museum Made Itself Cool Again

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The Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, is one of Beijing’s best-known tourist attractions. Situated at the heart of the city, the Palace Museum was once home to emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Since 2012, the Palace Museum has seen a marked increase in popularity among Chinese citizens. The growing fascination for the Palace and its history is no coincidence as it is the result of renovations as well as marketing efforts. In this article from tech media platform PingWest, writer Wang Fei tells the story of how Palace Museum director Shan Jixiang turned a historic monument people took for granted into a beloved, respected and mesmerizing attraction once again. This is an engaging read for anyone who wants to learn more about marketing and branding for tourist locations and cultivating popular interest in history. 

About the Author

Wang Fei writes for PingWest, a Chinese and English tech and business media site that bridges the information coming out of San Francisco and Beijing. 



Beijing’s Forbidden City was the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911). Today people know the tourist attraction as the Palace Museum. Though it has been a staple tourist spot since its opening in 1925, its popularity has been growing since the mid-2010s. Among new enthusiasts are older citizens who appreciate culture and tradition, photographers and photography hobbyists, and young people born after 2000 who enjoy costume play with traditional Han-style wardrobes. 

On February 19 and 20, 2019, the Palace Museum opened its doors to the public after dark for the first time in 94 years to celebrate the Lantern Festival. So many people tried to purchase online tickets to the event that the Palace Museum’s official website crashed. In resale markets, buyers were willing to pay more than ¥3000 ($450) for a ticket.

The hype around the Palace Museum has been building for years. Several documentaries have focused...

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