A buyer has at last been found for the carefully constructed Forbidden City exhibit at the shuttered Forbidden Gardens attraction in Katy. Well . . . for a portion of it, at least. Ben Cornblath is director of the museum and cultural center that closed under mysterious circumstances in February, then held an open-to-the-public selloff of many of its holdings. He tells Swamplot that a group of people in an “environmental” company associated with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has expressed interest in . . . that big shed that’s been standing over the model and protecting it from things like sleet, Hurricane Ike, and the Houston sun. The park is still awaiting the company’s bid. Cornblath says such structures appear to be a rare commodity around the metropolitan area, and this one has a strong track record of sheltering an entire miniature Middle Kingdom city for nearly a decade and a half. But getting the steel structure out of there won’t be easy: The move may require a crane.
What about that thing beneath the sought-after roof, the one-twentieth-scale model of Beijing’s Forbidden City?
It’s ready to be chopped up: No buyer has emerged for the entirety of the thing. So each Forbidden building in the Forbidden City is now available separately. How much will a replica imperial structure from the Ming Dynasty set you back? Well, $150 is the sticker rate for the Hall of Supreme Harmony — the biggest chunk — and prices for smaller buildings will vary according to size. But it won’t be easy to haul these buildings away: most are interconnected, and you run the risk of damaging adjacent palaces or pavilions in the chipping process. The structures are locked firmly into their foundations, and appear to have significant weight themselves: When I tried to move a separate model, I couldn’t push it even a centimeter. Cornblath says he now just wants to find “good homes” for the pieces. Staff is on hand every Tuesday and Thursday to assist with attempted sales or extractions. So far, only about 6 or 7 buildings have been sold and taken away.
- Previously on Swamplot: The 6,000 Garden Gnomes of Emperor Qin: Let the Great Houston Grave Ransacking Begin, Overwhelmed by Popular Demand, Forbidden Gardens Gives Up on Craigslist for Its Great Qin Dynasty Liquidation Sale, Out of the Way, Tiny Soldiers, Here Comes the Grand Parkway: Katy’s Forbidden Gardens Is Closing Down, Rough Weather and Marauding Visitors: Tough Times in the Forbidden Gardens of Katy
Photos: Jennifer Gray (top); Aaron Carpenter (all others)