Ancient Chinese art returned to country of origin

For the first time in history, the art museums in Bergen (KODE) will return parts of its  collection of Chinese art to its country of origin.


The unusual project is an agreement between KODE, The University of Peking and a wealthy Chinese businessman, and will result in the return of seven ancient pillars, an important part of China's cultural heritage.

"This is an important moment for the museum, but even more important for the Chinese people," says the sponsor and business man Huang Nubo from Zhongkun Investment Group.

The pillars stem from the Emperor's Palace in Beijing, but during the war in the 1860, the palace came under attack and was ruined by the British and French.

The pillars made their way to Norway through Johan Munthe, a Norwegian who was a general in the Chinese army.

In the early 1900s Munthe donated more than 2500 Chinese art pieces, and the Museum in Bergen has 21 of the pillars that originated from the palace. Most of them are in storage, and now seven of them will be brought back home to China.

In return, Nubo will donate NOK 10 million to the museum.

"This is not simply a purchase," says Nubo, "it is cultural exchange, and the support to KODE is long term."

The money will be invested in a new permanent China exhibition at the museum, and Norway will enter joint future projects together with the University in Peking.

This agreement opens up for an academic relationship and new possibilities with China, explains Erlend Høyersten, director of KODE.



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