China’s National Museum Begins Expansion Project, Year Behind Schedule

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There’s nothing like buckets of optimism to poison a massive, multi-year museum renovation, and the Chinese government is learning this the hard way. Its plan to renovate and expand the National Museum of China in Beijing got underway early last week (watch a video at CCTV if you want proof), more than a year later than planned. Turns out that dismantling and moving the museum’s collection of 620,000 items was more than a weekend job!

The renovation and expansion, which will cost the equivalent of approximately $211 million, will repair and reinforce three of the building’s wings, while new buildings are added to the eastern side. The expanded museum, located near Tiananmen Square, will cover about two million square feet upon completion — now slated for March of 2010. But the museum’s website is more optimistic. An undated press release posted there announces that the expansion and renovation project will be completed in 2009. Meanwhile, we can’t help but wonder why China would want to have ‘closed’ signs posted on the doors of its national museum just when when millions of visitors will be streaming into Beijing for the Olympics.