Hebei Museum Shut Over Forged Exhibits

The Global Times report on a Hebei museum that has been shut down after many of its exhibits were discovered to be forgeries:

The Jibaozhai Museum in Erpu village, Jizhou, has had its license revoked by Jizhou civil affairs bureau, and its mangers are under investigation, an official from Hebei Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau, surnamed Li, told the Global Times.

“Jibaozhai has no qualification to be a museum as its collections are fake and it hasn’t reported to my department for approval,” said Li

[…]Jizhou authorities launched an investigation into the museum on Wednesday after media reports alleged the relics were fake.

[…]Villagers have long been opposed to the museum, and have accused Wang Zongquan, the village’s Party chief and curator of the museum, of buying fake relics and misappropriating funds after village land was sold.

“Most of the historic relics are fake, but the real ones are in Wang’s home,” Liu Xin-liang, a resident of Erpu, told the Global Times.[…] [Source]

Bloomberg reports on the purported value of the museum’s holdings, and describes some of the telltale exhibits that sparked an investigation into the collection’s authenticity, before situating the museum into China’s larger climate of counterfeiting:

Chinese authorities forced the closing of a museum curated by a local Communist Party boss in northern China after determining that almost all of the items in its 50 million-yuan ($8.1 million) collection were fake.

Forgeries at the museum in Hebei province included an item billed as a five-color porcelain vase from the Tang Dynasty, even though the artistic technique wasn’t invented until hundreds of years later, the Shanghai Daily said in a story today. Another item was purportedly signed in simplified Chinese by an emperor said to have lived more than 3,000 years before the writing system was invented.

[…]Counterfeiters in China have faked everything from medicine to Kweichow Moutai’s high-end liquor to Apple Inc. (AAPL) stores. At strategic talks with the U.S. earlier this month, Chinese government officials promised to do more to protect intellectual property. [Source]

The management of the closed museum is currently under investigation, though the owner appears to be less than apologetic. From the BBC:

The managers are reportedly being investigated by state authorities. The owner has denied misusing funds.

The owner is quoted as saying in the Shanghai Daily that “even the gods cannot tell whether the exhibits are fake or not”. He said he set the museum up to promote Chinese culture. [Source]

Business Insider has some comments on the museum from the online and academic communities, and mentions a study claiming that, as China continues to open up historical exhibitions, forged relics are common:

China is currently in the midst of an unprecedented museum boom with nearly 400 new museums opening in 2011 alone, according to government figures.

But fake relics have proved a persistent thorn in the industry’s side. In 2011, state media reported claims that 80 per cent of the fossils in Chinese museums were fake.

“Fake fossils are like poisoned milk powder that injure and insult visitors,” a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was quoted as saying. [Source]

 

Also see prior CDT coverage of counterfeiting or official corruption.