Monday, March 10, 2008

The First Emperor

Today Rosemary and I visited The First Emperor exhibition at the British Museum, which I can safely say was a stunning experience. The exhibition isn't large, fitting into a gallery space slung across the width of the Reading Room in the centre of the Museum's Great Court, but we still spent almost three hours there, and hardly noticed the passage of time. The curators have made a fantastic job of telling the story of Qin Shihuangdi, the man who first unified the provinces of China into a single empire and who was responsible for the Terracotta Army of 7,000 life-sized figures that guard the eastern approaches to his tomb in Xi'an province. As well as a dozen or so of the statues themselves, the exhibition also includes some amazing artifacts recovered from the site, the craftsmanship of which is incredible given their age.

I didn't manage to get to the Tutankhamen Exhibition at the museum in the 1970s, but Rosemary did, and she thought that this was the equal of it in terms of its grandeur and importance. It's well worth a visit (even essential), although all advance tickets are now sold. You can still get in on the day if you queue early in the mornings, and the exhibition runs until 6th April.