Check Out The Forbidden City & Beyond the Walls Exhibits at VMFA

forbidden city 4

Photo Courtesy of Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

forbidden city 1

Photo Courtesy of Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing presents nearly 200 works of art drawn from the collection of the Palace Museum.

Forbidden City will offer visitors a unique journey through a palace once forbidden to the general public, and provide a glimpse into this hidden world through rich and diverse objects from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. Featured works include large portraits, costumes, furniture, court paintings, religious sculptures, and fine decorative arts such as bronzes, lacquer ware, and jade. This exhibition explores the significant roles of imperial rituals, court painting, imperial family life, and religion in the Forbidden City.

05_Set of Ritual Bells © The Palace Museum

Photo Courtesy of VMFA

Walking through the exhibit with kids is an opportunity for them to experience another time and place.  The rich colors and different styles of furniture and art are certainly a conversation starter!  We had to stop by the cafe and ‘googled’ the answers to various questions that came up during our tour.  It was a great history lesson on the culture and beliefs of the time.

photo 1 (4)

Tangram Fun!

After experiencing the Forbidden City – check out Beyond the Walls.  This is an great interactive exhibit that allows kids to do what comes naturally – touch everything!  The exhibit offers a glimpse at life in a merchant-class family in Beijing at the dawn of the 19th century.  Kids can play several different ancient musical instruments, complete Tangram puzzles, practice Chinese calligraphy, create a personal seal,  and see what kind of pictures handscrolls reveal.

And don’t miss the 3D printer in the Main Hall!  We were all fascinated as the printer created the 3d houses that are being used to replicate the Forbidden City layout.

photo 1 (5)

Chinese Calligraphy

Important Details:

Although VMFA is free and open 365 days a year, there is a fee to see this special exhibit.  TICKETS are: $20; $16 for seniors 65+ and adult groups of 10+; and $10 for students with ID and youth ages 7 – 17.  Free for members and children 6 and younger.

The exhibit will be open through JANUARY 11, 2015

Consider educating your children some before you go.  Our family would have found it helpful to know a bit more on the country of China,  what the Forbidden City 
was, and what the religion and culture were at the time.  We used our ipad in the cafe to google questions the kids had after our tour.

photo 2 (4)

Musical Fun!

For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit

More About the Exhibit

Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing is organized by the Palace Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition is curated by Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art at VMFA

This exhibition is part of a groundbreaking exchange between the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace Museum – a series of collaborative projects between 2011 and 2016 that include exhibition and staff exchange in the areas of administration, curatorship, conservation, education, and security. VMFA is the first art museum in the United States to establish such an extensive collaborative project with the Palace Museum in Beijing, and this is the first time VMFA will host an exhibition of Chinese art directly from China.