first modern aquarium in China. But construction was unfinished when the Qing monarc
hy fell, leaving abandoned stone architecture and iron frames, which can be seen by visitors today.
Cultural relic warehouses were added in the courtyard after 1925, when the Forbidden City became a public museum.
In-depth studies will follow the donation to uncover mysteries, because no original blueprint of the aquarium has been found.
According to Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, the Yanxi Go
ng area will be turned into an exhibition space displaying foreign cultural relics among for
mal royal collections, because the place reflects Sino-foreign cultural exchanges. It is expected to open in 2020.
About 10,000 cultural relics out of the 1.86 million artifacts being housed in the Palace Museum are of foreign origin. The mo
st important collection is 1,500 antique European clocks that were given as gifts or bought by Qing emperors.