Terracotta Army Set For Four-City Canada Tour

2010-2012 Canadian National Tour Of “The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army” Exhibition Announced At Royal Ontario Museum This Week

Qin Shihuang's terracotta army

Qin Shihuang's terracotta army

Late last year, China and Canada announced that the two countries would work hard to increase cultural and business exchanges in coming years. At that time, Jing Daily wrote that China’s skill at cultural exchange had developed rapidly since the 1970s:

Over the past few years, we’ve seen China stepping up its efforts at cultural diplomacy and projection of soft power, through everything from opening Confucius Institutes around the world to more recent activities like panda diplomacy, art diplomacy, and museum diplomacy.

One form of diplomacy that we unfortunately left out was terracotta diplomacy. In recent years, China has sent its famous Xi’an terracotta warriors on overseas tours that have been, from all reports, quite a hit. Most recently, in November the terracotta warriors made their way to the U.S., another event we covered closely:

China’s Terra Cotta Army, discovered near Xi’an, Shaanxi Province in 1974, is one of the country’s most iconic archaeological finds, a symbol of its ancient imperial past. Recently, around 30 of the more than 7,000 warriors (most of which have yet to be excavated) went on a four-city US tour — the largest touring exhibition of the soldiers ever — which just opened in Washington D.C. at the National Geographic Museum.

Cultural and archaeological exchanges between the US and China are nothing new, and this is not the first time that Terra Cotta Warriors have taken a US tour, but the scale of this traveling exhibition is far larger than any that preceded it, indicating that China is becoming more comfortable with sending its relics overseas — perhaps with the aim of “art diplomacy” in mind.

This week, the Royal Ontario Museum announced that “terracotta diplomacy” would soon be making its way to Canada, with 18 warrior figures and horses — along with hundreds of smaller artifacts, some of which have never been displayed outside of China (and some that have never even been displayed to the public in China) — due to go on display in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Victoria between 2010 and 2012. From China.org.cn:

The launch of the 2010-2012 Canadian national tour of The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army was announced Wednesday at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The national tour, marking their debut in Canada, will encompass four venues across the country. Following the ROM’s engagement, commencing in late June 2010, the exhibition will travel to Montreal, Calgary and Victoria.

Dr. Chen Shen, Senior Curator in the ROM’s World Cultures department is the exhibition’s curator and responsible for developing the content of the Canadian tour. Dr. Shen emphasizes, “This Canadian national tour is a newly developed and contextually different presentation than previous, international displays.”

The number of full-sized warriors and the exhibition’s scope makes this the largest display of the First Emperor’s terracotta army ever to be seen in North America. Many of the artifacts displayed during the upcoming Canadian tour have never before left China. In fact, some have not yet been displayed in any museum in China. This is a major triumph for the ROM and its Canadian tour partners.

The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army will launch at the ROM late June 2010. Following this premiere engagement, the exhibition will then travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in early 2011, followed by Calgary’s Glenbow Museum in summer and fall in 2011, and Victoria’s Royal BC Museum in late 2011 to 2012.

“The Foundation takes great pleasure in joining with the Royal Ontario Museum and the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center to present the premiere Canadian engagement of The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army,” says Robert H. N. Ho, Founder of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

“The Foundation believes that this exhibition will promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of ancient Chinese civilization. It is a fine example of important cross-cultural exchange between museums in China and Canada.”

The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army will feature 120 sets of loan objects, encompassing over 250 artifacts, dated to the first millennium BC. Among them are impressive 18 life- sized terracotta sculptures, comprising 16 human figures and two horses.


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