The Unforbidden

All over the palace, offices, tool sheds, concessions, and other non-historical and temporary structures are getting torn down. New lights using fireproof technology now illuminate interiors. Further renovations are paying the same attention to material culture—the art and artifacts that make a room come alive—as the physical structure. Other interior courtyards and buildings are being opened as exhibit spaces to showcase the museum’s enormous collection.

Among the areas now accessible are the palace walls: Museum-goers can walk from the Meridian Gate, the Forbidden City’s “front door,” to the East Gate at Donghuamen, which houses an exhibit about the palace’s  elaborate rooftops. During their stroll, visitors can stop at the Southeast Tower, and see a 25-minute virtual reality film showing how buildings were erected with thousands of pieces of wood but not a single nail.