Some got up at 5 a.m.
More than 500 visitors flocked to the Forbidden City in Beijing for the unveiling of a 900-year-old classical painting there on Friday morning.
As A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (Qianli Jiangshan Tu) opened to viewing at 8:30 a.m., Palace Museum employees warned art lovers lining up outside to expect a three-hour wait.
The announcement only appeared to spark greater enthusiasm to see the sole surviving work of Wang Ximeng, who finished the scroll in 1096, at the age of 18.
Measuring 51.5 by 1,191.5 centimeters, the sweeping ink-and-color silk scroll painting is considered a masterpiece of traditional Chinese painting.
"It took me almost two hours to finish viewing the entire painting as the crowd was moving so slowly," art student Yang Xiuqing told the Global Times.
Two years ago when Along the River during the Qingming Festival (Qingming Shanghe Tu) went on display, the instant noodles sold out at a nearby museum gallery shop.
Created by Zhang Zeduan during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), that painting depicts the buildings and daily life of the then-Chinese capital Bianjing, or modern-day Kaifeng, in Central China's Henan Province.
Yang visited that exhibition too.
"It took me almost nine hours to get in, but after I saw the painting, all my efforts were worthwhile. It was like traveling into the past and feeling the depth of our classical culture," she said.
A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains will be put on display for 46 days and then open again in four years, thepaper.cn reported.
Wang's work was exhibited at the museum in 2013, but few people showed up then, a museum employee was quoted as saying by the news site.
Chinese people's cultural enthusiasm improves alongside the country's economic and social development, Li Mingde, former vice president of Beijing Tourism Society, told the Global Times.
Admiration for traditional Chinese culture boosts national pride, he noted.
"Chinese people's attitude towards traditional culture is changing as traditional Chinese culture becomes a part of our life," Li said.