When it reopened last month after extensive renovations to the tune of £235m, the National Museum of China edged out New York’s Metropolitan to become the largest museum in the world.

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When it reopened last month after extensive renovations to the tune of £235m, the National Museum of China edged out New York’s Metropolitan to become the largest museum in the world. The Tiananmen Square institution offered a grandiose view of China’s history, but gave short shrift to sensitive topics — not surprisingly, it is silent on certain events that took place nearby.

But since 1 April, critics have found it more difficult to paint the institution as a mere propaganda outlet. The museum’s first temporary exhibition, “The Art of the Enlightenment”, is a yearlong collaboration with top-tier German institutions in Berlin, Dresden and Munich. It includes thematic sections on such overtly political topics as “Emancipation and the Public Sphere” and “The Revolution of Art”. Surely, in the wake of an unnerving political season that saw tumult in the Maghreb and a “jasmine revolution”, someone in the government must object?

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