Access our FREE web-based Forbidden City audio tour. Use your own mobile device and headphones and our free wi-fi to stream the audio tour in the galleries or enjoy the tour at home on your computer.

Launch Audio Tour

Drawn from the collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing, Forbidden City will offer visitors a unique journey through a palace once forbidden to the general public, and provide a glimpse into this hidden world through rich and diverse objects from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. Featured works include large portraits, costumes, furniture, court paintings, religious sculptures, and fine decorative arts such as bronzes, lacquer ware, and jade. This exhibition explores the significant roles of imperial rituals, court painting, imperial family life, and religion in the Forbidden City.

Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing is organized by the Palace Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition is curated by Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art at VMFA.

This exhibition is part of a groundbreaking exchange between the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace Museum – a series of collaborative projects between 2011 and 2016 that include exhibition and staff exchange in the areas of administration, curatorship, conservation, education, and security. VMFA is the first art museum in the United States to establish such an extensive collaborative project with the Palace Museum in Beijing, and this is the first time VMFA will host an exhibition of Chinese art directly from China.

A scholarly catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with essays contributed by Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art at VMFA; He Li, Associate Curator of Chinese Art from the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco; Hou-mei Sung, Curator of Asian Art from the Cincinnati Art Museum; and Ma Shengnan, Associate Researcher from the Palace Museum. The exhibition catalogue is published by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.


Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing is presented by:

Altria Group

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation

MeadWestvaco Foundation

Julia Louise Reynolds Fund

Eda Hofstead Cabaniss

Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney

National Endowment for the Arts

The Richard S. Reynolds Foundation

The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation

Mr. and Mrs. Fred T. Tattersall

Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation

Lilli and William Beyer

The Dr. Donald S. and Beejay Brown Exhibitions Endowment

The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia

Frank Qiu and Ting Xu of Evergreen Enterprises

Leapfrog 3D Printers

Memorial Foundation for Children

Norfolk Southern Corporation

Mary and Don Shockey

Carolyn and John Snow

Capital One Bank

The Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation

Jack and Mary Spain

Official Passenger Rail  Partner

Media Sponsor


Free for VMFA members, children 6 and under, and active-duty military personnel and their immediate families.

$20 for adults

$16 for seniors 65+

$10 for youth (7 – 17) and students with school ID

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 804.340.1405.

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