After years of preparation, construction of a branch of the Palace Museum formally kicked off last Wednesday in Beijing's northwestern outskirts.
The branch, covering about 620,000 sq m in the north of Haidian district, will serve as a satellite institution of the complex.
The branch will include 35,000 sq m of exhibition space, a conservation center of 20,000 sq m for cultural relics, and a warehouse of 23,000 sq m, according to Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum.
Plans call for it to fully open in June 2022, but the conservation center may be ready for visits by the public in 2020, when the Forbidden City will celebrate its 600th birthday, Shan said.
"Having such an institution will improve our service and expand our room to display our collections," he said.
The lack of sufficient exhibition space has been a lingering problem for the museum, which houses more than 1.86 million cultural relics.
The need to provide a safe and secure environment for artifacts exhibited in the ancient buildings has meant that only 2 percent of the museum's treasures can be simultaneously displayed to the public.
"Our collections of large items, like the huge number of tapestries and sedan chairs, particularly need exhibition spaces," Shan said. "It's currently impossible to display them in the Forbidden City, but the new museum will offer good conditions to put them on display."