A museum in northern China was closed Tuesday by the government after authorities discovered that most of the items in the collection were forgeries. According to the Global Times newspaper, it was the residents of the village of Erpu that raised the first suspicion.
The Jibaozhai Museum, in Jizhou, was located in Hebei province and curated by a Communist Party boss. Photos of the collection were put online with a story questioning the authenticity. Residents of Erpu had been claiming that the party boss had used money raised for the museum to buy a fake collection. Samples of the 50 million-yuan ($8.1 million) investment included vases from one dynasty with artistic techniques that weren’t even invented until hundreds of years later, and an item signed in simplified Chinese by an emperor who lived at least 3,000 years before the simplified characters were invented.
A representative of the Hebei Cultural Heritage Bureau had said there was no record of Jibaozhai reporting to the proper department for approval. The museum opened in 2010 and had 40,000 items in its collection. Chief consultant Wei Yingjun stated that at least 80 out of the 40,000 items are authentic. Museum deputy curator Shao Baoming sounded more optimistic, telling the Shanghai Daily that the authenticity rate is “at least half” of the items.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent