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Palace museums join forces to restore ancient clocks

Updated : 2020-11-19 (


A restorer works on an ancient clock from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in the new Joint Conservation Studio for Ancient Clocks in Shenyang. [Photo/IC]

The dedication and plaque unveiling ceremony for the new Joint Conservation Studio for Ancient Clocks recently took place in the Shenyang Palace Museum in Shenyang, capital city of Northeast China's Liaoning province. 

Established by the Shenyang Palace Museum and the Palace Museum in Beijing, the studio has restored five clocks from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) since Oct 26, through the efforts of horological experts and conservationists from both museums. 

All the restored clocks went on display at the foundation ceremony, among which an especially ornate clock with a singing bird automaton made in France at the end of the 19th century was particularly eye-catching. 


An automaton bird stands within a clock, ready to sing on the hour, in the Shenyang Palace Museum. [Photo/IC]

The clock has a built-in music box and can play eight sets of music, including a Chinese folk melody, on the hour when it strikes the time. A automaton bird under a metal dome structure within the timepiece opens its beak, shakes its head and waves its tail while singing on the hour -- reflecting high level of clockmaking skills achieved during that period. 

Li Shengneng, director of the Shenyang Palace Museum, said that the museum has a collection of over 40 timepieces, mostly from the Qing Dynasty. Quite a few of them were crafted in the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland from the 18th century to the early 20th century.

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