Traversing Forbidden City


To mark the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City in 2020 and ride on the successful launch of the “Traversing the Forbidden City – Architecture and Craftsmanship” exhibition in 2019, the Art Promotion Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has collaborated with the Department of Fine Arts of The Chinese University of Hong Kong to present the online exhibition “The Common Folks behind the Vermilion Walls”. Post-graduate students of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, led by professors, drew on research studies on the Palace Museum to lay down an academic foundation for the exhibition. With the consolidation, interpretation and compilation of historical materials by the Art Promotion Office and a creative visual presentation by the designer, the exhibition presents the collections of the Palace Museum in an intriguing way, while at the same time providing an online platform for young art historians to unleash their talents.

The Forbidden City, a majestic, world-renowned complex, is a spectacular stage, which holds a wealth of history. It has stood for 600 years and has borne witness to the rise and fall of dynasties. During the centuries that the Forbidden City operated as China’s imperial palace, taking centre stage were the imperial authorities, a political golden age, and the robust rivalries; meanwhile, behind the curtains were thousands of ordinary people manifesting their unique skills and wisdom.

The online exhibition spotlights the lesser-known inhabitants of the palace, and their duties and expertise. It offers a glimpse into the world of the ordinary people for a better understanding of life in the imperial palace. These common folks from all corners of the land included skilled crafters, brave firemen, five-star chefs, miraculous doctors, professional dog trainers, and the expert actors of the imperial theatre troupe. They kept the palace running and served the powerful members of the imperial family. Wading into the tides of history, the exhibition looks at the common folks who have passed through these vermilion walls and recounts their moments in history and their destiny.

Please visit other online exhibitions of the “Traversing the Forbidden City” series:

Masterpieces behind the Vermilion Walls

Sentiments and Sensibilities behind the Vermilion Walls

Life of Fusion behind the Vermilion Walls

The online exhibition is also one of the activities in the Chinese Culture Promotion Series. The LCSD has long been promoting Chinese history and culture through organising an array of programmes and activities to enable the public to learn more about the broad and profound Chinese culture. For more information, please visit

© 2024 Last Modified At 2024.02.07