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2019 Spring Spotlight Celebrates the Qianlong Garden

Last night, friends and supporters gathered at NYC’s China Blue for World Monuments Fund’s second annual Spring Spotlight fundraiser, this year to celebrate the ongoing conservation of the Forbidden City’s Qianlong Garden and preview plans for its new interpretation center with celebrated architect Annabelle Selldorf.

Spanning almost two acres, the Qianlong Garden possesses some of the most exquisitely designed interiors to survive from imperial China. Left dormant for 80 years, the garden’s 27 pavilions, structures, and rockeries have been undergoing painstaking conservation since 2004 thanks to a partnership between World Monuments Fund and the Palace Museum. The project is set to be completed in 2020, in tandem with the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City.

Following cocktails and courses including steamed crab soup buns and red cooked pork, Annabelle Selldorf took to the podium to provide an inside look at her designs for the Qianlong Garden’s new visitor center. Planned in three distinct halls surrounding an open pavilion, the center will give the public access to the Qianlong Garden for the first time ever. The west hall will serve as an exhibition space to present the eighteenth-century design and creation of the Qianlong Garden; the east hall will present the conservation of the complex; and the main hall will be an open space with an unobstructed view of the third courtyard rockeries for visitors to peacefully contemplate the garden. Selldorf will collaborate with exhibition curator Nancy Berliner on the content of each hall.

“It’s not just about buildings,” said Selldorf during her presentation. “It’s about understanding where we come from, it’s about the simultaneity of culture evidenced in buildings and in palaces.”

The evening, which was generously sponsored by Credit Suisse, was also an opportunity to give thanks to supporters who have pushed the project forward during 15 years of planning and conservation. WMF Interim CEO Lisa Ackerman delivered a special tribute to trustee Nancy Negley and the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston for their extraordinary dedication to the Qianlong Garden. “Their vision made it possible for us to embark upon this historic international collaboration,” Ackerman said.

Scroll through the slideshow below to see more from the evening.