A museum in northern China has been closed down by local authorities after many of its artefacts were revealed to be fakes.
The Jibaozhai Museum opened in 2010 in the city of Jizhou in Hebei Province, costing 540 million yuan (£5.8 million) to develop. Its twelve exhibition halls were initially deemed a patriotic education centre and was given a respectable ‘Grade 3A Tourist Attraction Rating’.
But the dubious credibility of its artefacts was brought to public attention when Ma Boyong, a Beijing-based writer, visited the museum and published his scepticism online along with pictures of the exhibits.
In one of the pictures, a vase – which the museum claimed to be a Qing dynasty relic – was decorated with bright green cartoon animals, including what appears to be a smiling octopus.
Other items are displayed as having been signed by the legendary Yellow Emperor, who according to tradition reigned in the 27th century BC. However the signature uses the simplified Chinese characters introduced by the Communist Party in 1949, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported.
Attention was also drawn to a five-colour porcelain vase which the museum recorded as dating from the 8th century Tang Dynasty, despite the fact that the technique used to create it was not invented until hundreds of years later.
Wei Yingjun, chief consultant at the Jibaozhai Museum, reportedly said he could only be sure of the authenticity of around 80 of the museum’s 40,000 objects. Its deputy curator Shao Baoming was more confident, arguing that “at least half of the exhibits” are legitimate.