In what turned out to be a major humiliation, an $88 million Chinese Museum in Jizhou city has been shut down after thousands of artifacts on display were proved to be forged.
The Jibaozhai Museum "has no qualification to be a museum as its collections are fake and it hasn't reported to my department for approval," said an official in a statement from the Hebei cultural heritage bureau.
The museum which was thrown open in 2010 boasted of 12 exhibitions halls with exhibits which in recent revelations surfaced as cheap buys.
Locals living near the museum told the Beijing News that the museum owner Wang Zongquan bought more than 40,000 fake exhibits at prices ranging from 100 yuan ($16.16) to 2,000 yuan.
As evidence of the fake artifacts, the state-run China Radio International posted pictures of a vase, claimed to be a Quing dynasry relic, which had been decorated with bright coloured cartoon animals, one of which resembled a laughing squid.
The forgery was first noticed earlier this month by Ma Boyong, a Chinese writer, who during his visit found several inconsistencies during his visit to the expansive four-floored museum.
One of the most striking errors Boyong noticed was that the artifacts, which were said have dated back 4,000 years ago to the era of China's Yellow Emperor, had simplified Chinesse characters which came to use only in the 20th century, reported by Shanghai Daily.
Another porcelain vase on display, done up in five colours and dated back to Tang dynasty, was declared fake by the Chinese authorities on the grounds that the technique used on the vase was invented about 100 years later, during the Ming Dynasty.
When asked of the presence of fake exhibits, owner Wang rather than apologising said nonchalantly: "Even the gods cannot tell whether the exhibits are fake or not."
Wei Yingjun, the museum's chief consultant, told The Daily Telegraph, "I'm positive that we do have authentic items in the museum. There might be fake items too but we would need [to carry out] identification and verification [to confirm that]."