The Peabody Place Museum has introduced five new interpretive exhibits to the already extensive collection of Chinese art currently on display.

"The interpretive stations were originally designed to enhance our educational programs for students, but all of our visitors have responded very favorably to the new exhibits," said Nancy Knight, director and curator of Peabody Place Museum.

Long prized for its beauty and durability, jade has become an object of art and legends. The Chinese believed that jade had therapeutic values and held supernatural powers that could protect its wearer. While walking through the Museum, visitors can learn about both the mineral makeup of jade and its cultural significance.

The first station of the exhibit answers the question "What is Jade?" and displays a collection of 34 different samples of jade from all over the world representing the diversity of the material. Museum curators created a replica of the Mohs' scale of hardness to illustrate how jade compares in hardness and density to a selection of well known materials, including a diamond, the hardest mineral on earth, and slate, a very soft material that is easily scratched.

The second station explains where jade comes from and includes a map of Asia with samples of the many semiprecious and hard stones imported into China to be worked by Chinese artisans in the late 19th and the early part of the 20th centuries.

At the third stop, the former curator of exhibits for the Pink Palace, Tom Miller, created an illustration of the intensive process of jade cutting and carving by creating a small replica of a bow drill, which was one of the main tools used by jade craftsmen during the Qing Dynasty. Additionally, Miller describes the life of a craftsman who tirelessly worked to form beautiful works of art with little more than the bow, powdered diamonds and sand.

The final two stops give insight into why jade became a status symbol and a metaphor for both physical and spiritual beauty in China as early as the 4th Century.

"Our main goal in creating the interpretation stations was to help visitors gain a greater appreciation of jade as a material for objects d'art," added Knight. "One does not have to be an art aficionado to appreciate the dedication and skill that went into creating these exquisite works of art."

The museum, located at 119 S. Main Street, is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, Saturday & Sunday noon until 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Adults $5.00, Seniors $4.50, Students $4.00, Adult and Senior group rates are $3.50 per person. For more information contact the museum at 901-523-ARTS.