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Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 19:30

The Emperor's Garden: The Reconstruction of the Palace of Established Happiness Garden in the Forbidden City

Happy Harun, Project Director, China Heritage Fund

Swiss Embassy

Happy Harun, Project Director of the Hong Kong-based China Heritage Fund, will present an illustrated lecture on the reconstruction of the Palace of Established Happiness Garden in the private quarters of the Forbidden City. Originally built in 1740 by the Emperor Qianlong, this garden covered over 5000 square meters and comprised nine buildings with lavish pavilions, sunken courtyards, and covered walkways. In the summer of 1923, on the eve of the Last Emperor Puyi's departure from the Forbidden City, a mysterious fire completely destroyed the Garden. Speculation is that the eunuchs and concubines set fire to the garden as a cover-up of their thefts from the Forbidden City.

The site remained untouched for nearly 80 years until mid 1990 when the China Heritage Fund pledged at least $4 million for the complete reconstruction of the garden. This is the first time the Forbidden City Palace Museum has collaborated with an “outside” entity on a construction of this scale. A team of over 60 skilled Chinese carpenters, stonemasons, tile workers and painters are using traditional tools, techniques, and processes to recapture the Garden's former glory. BIS is very pleased that Ms. Harun be able to provide first-hand descriptions of this major restoration project of one of the most unusual sites in the Forbidden City. Ms. Harun is also very pleased to be able to give this lecture for the first time in Beijing and to give us an insight into restoration work that is not open to the public.