The Tower at Peabody Place
100 Peabody Place/Suite 1400
Memphis, TN 38103
Melinda Medlin or Bob Phillips
Thompson & Baker
Rediscover Ancient Culture of the Manchu Dynasty At
Opening of Peabody Place Museum and Gallery
Memphis, Tennessee (October 15, 1998) --
One of the countrys most extensive and rare
collections of Chinese artistry transported visitors
through time Thursday (October 15) to the Manchus
Qing (Ching) Dynasty during the opening of the
Peabody Place Museum and Gallery.
The unique museum, located in
the Pembroke Building at 119 S. Main, features
extraordinary works of Chinese art from the private
collection of Jack and Marilyn Belz of Memphis. Mr. Belz
is chairman and chief executive officer of Belz
Enterprises, a leading innovator in real estate
development with interests throughout the South and much
of the country.
Peabody Place Museum and Gallery
exhibits one of Americas most exquisite collections
from the artistic legacy of the Manchu Dynasty, which
reigned from 1644 until the revolution of 1911. A
majority of the collection is from the 19th century and
later, with some pieces dating back several hundred
Artists from this last great
ancient Chinese dynasty created some of the most
beautiful treasures in the world. After the Manchu
Dynastys fall, many of these creations were
scattered and lost. Rare examples of this artistry in
jade, other precious stones, ivory, porcelain and
cloisonné along with furnishings, fabrics, scrolls and
other artistic objects will be displayed in the Peabody
Place Museum and Gallery.
The art of China is a
great example of the use of the creative eye, the hand
and a multigenerational commitment to craft
tradition, said Mr. Belz. Ive always
been fascinated with the different forms of art that are
unique to different countries, and indeed, to different
regions within countries. China is an amazing example.
The different areas of the country have separate artistic
specialties that are handed down from one generation to
Visitors enter the museum
through a round moon gate. The main gallery entrance is
guarded by two cloisonné Temple Shizi Guardian Lions or
Foo Dogs. The Foo Dogs tower
almost six feet tall and once stood watch over the
Forbidden City in Beijing.
Once inside the gate, visitors
wander through three galleries, featuring 7,500 square
feet and more than 100 pieces of priceless Chinese
As visitors walk into the main
gallery, a massive, carved jade ship takes center stage.
The ship stands almost six feet tall and five feet wide
with complex carvings, including a two-headed dragon at
the bow of the ship and multiple sails on the ships
Throughout the museum, visitors
will view numerous jade pieces ranging from small animals
to a 2,000-pound statue that is carved with multiple
scenes from Chinese life during the Manchu Dynasty.
Many art forms, such as jade
carving, reached their peak of perfection during the Qing
period. Jade, which is harder than steel and very
brittle, cannot be chiseled but must be worked by
grinding with abrasives. The delicate jade carvings were
created by drills and disks used with abrasive pastes.
The drills were run by foot-pedal power. After the
objects design is complete, it is polished with
finer abrasives and buffing tools. Because of its
scarcity and difficulty to carve, jade objects were
prized. In addition, jade was thought to have magical
properties and was often buried with the dead to protect
the body from decay or to promote immortality.
One of the galleries also
features a parade of animals along a 40-foot path that
leads from a cave. The animals include pairs of horses,
tigers, camels, and sheep, all created from a variety of
precious stones, ivory, cloisonné and other materials.
The animals range from three-feet to five-feet tall. The
backdrop to these figures is an enormous mural painted by
Elinor Hawkins of Memphis.
From the intricate ivory
carvings that took years to create to the brilliant
coloration of the fearsome cloisonné lions, the Belz
Collection reflects the opulent style of the Imperial
court. Art from the Qing Dynasty illustrates lavish
decoration and superb technique. The style comes at the
end of a long Imperial tradition, and amalgamates
Chinas own rich history of symbols, art and craft
forms, shapes and techniques.
The general aesthetics and mood
of the Belz Collection is set by the frequent use of blue
and green in Qing times, plus the complements of
occasional rich gold and Imperial Yellow.
The Belz Collection began during
a trip to Los Angeles almost 30 years ago. The couple
wandered into an Oriental collectors gallery and
became enchanted with the beauty and craftsmanship of the
art. The collection began with a purchase that day of
carved ivory horses, an ivory chess set and an intriguing
carved stone ball-in-ball.
After 30 years of assembling a
vast art collection, Mr. and Mrs. Belz decided to create
a museum at Peabody Place and share an important piece of
art history with the public.
I still have the first
pieces I purchased, though they are not of the magnitude
of the art on display in the museum, said Mr. Belz.
I love art all types of art. When you have
something beautiful flowers, art, whatever
you just want to share it. It makes you feel better when
you share with others.
The Peabody Place Museum and
Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday
through Friday; and noon to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and
Sunday. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4.50
for senior citizens, and $4 for children under 12.
Headquartered in Memphis,
Tennessee, Belz Enterprises is a national leader in real
estate development. The company owns and manages more
than 25 million square feet of industrial, warehouse and
distribution centers, shopping centers, office buildings,
mixed-use centers and corporate campuses. Belz also owns
a group of premier hotels including the Peabody Hotels in
Memphis, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida.
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