On 27 December 2013, the Beijing Children’s Palace 北京市少年宫 departed the Hall of Sovereign Longevity (Shouhuang dian 寿皇殿) and the Hall of Observing Virtue (Guande dian 观德殿), sites within Jingshan Park it had occupied since 1956, for newer digs on West Zuo’anmen Street in southern Dongcheng District.
Children’s Palaces are run by the Communist Youth League and provide training in music, arts, and sports for talented youngsters.
The complex is part of The Central Axis of Beijing, a collection of historic buildings awaiting UNESCO World Heritage status. During the Qing Dynasty, the Hall of Sovereign Longevity served as the ancestral hall of the imperial family and held the altars and portraits of former emperors. It’s slated to be renovated and restored to the way it looked in the 14th year of Qianlong (1749), when the emperor had it expanded from three columns to nine. Unfortunately, according to Song Kai 宋愷 of Jingshan Park’s Construction Department, the building is in poor condition and had its overall layout significantly altered during its time as a children’s art center. By contrast, the smaller Hall of Observing Virtue, which served as the library of the Children’s Palace, is in comparatively good condition.
The sports facility will remain in the northwest corner of Jingshan Park through the end of 2014.
In an interesting footnote illustrating the difficulty of accommodating multiple histories, The Beijing News also reports that although a pavilion built in the 1950s and named after revolutionary heroine Liu Hulan 刘胡兰 will be retained, ‘whether or not it will still be called Liu Hulan Pavilion requires further study.’
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