First Emperor of China Exhibition at British Museum Sept 2007

Backdated from previous BA website

The British Museum have issued the following press release announcing the exhibition of the famous terracotta warriors from XiA?an.

British Museum announces plan for the First Emperor of China exhibition in Round Reading Room

Morgan Stanley to sponsor the exhibition

The extraordinary success of two recent exhibitions at the British Museum has highlighted a pressing need for a larger temporary exhibition space giving many more visitors access to exhibitions than current capacity allows.  Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master attracted record visitor numbers. Such was the demand that the Museum stayed open, for the first time in its 253 year history, until midnight every Saturday in June and late every day in the final week with queues for last-minute tickets running the length of Great Russell St. The Museum’s previous temporary exhibition Forgotten Empire: the world of ancient Persia was also a resounding success. Both of these exhibitions could have accommodated significantly more visitors in a larger, more suitable space, and the same will almost certainly be true of next year’s major China exhibition, The First Emperor, which will feature the largest ever loan of the famous terracotta warriors from Xi’an.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, has just returned from China where he signed an agreement with the authorities in the ancient capital of Xi’an to present the exhibition from September 2007 to 6 April 2008.  He said ‘The First Emperor, the man who introduced the idea of a unified state and effectively created China in 221BC, will take place during the Beijing Cultural Olympiad, and forms an integral part of the cultural partnership between the British Museum and Chinese cultural institutions. It provides an unmissable, once in a lifetime, opportunity for the public to understand China’s past, present and possible futures. We want as many people as possible to see it’.

At their July board meeting, the Museum’s Trustees decided it was a priority to build a new space dedicated to temporary exhibitions. Various options for this new space are  being considered, but whichever is chosen will not be ready until 2010. In the meantime, the Museum is currently consulting local authorities and other key bodies to explore the possibility of using an existing space within the Museum. Temporary listed building consent is being sought to convert the Round Reading Room into an exhibition space for twelve months to accommodate the sheer size and scale of The First Emperor exhibition. After the season is complete, the Reading Room would be returned to its original state, with no plans for further use as an exhibition space.

Notes to Editors
·    Temporary exhibition visitor numbers:
Michelangelo Drawings: closer to the master, 160,635
Forgotten Empire: the world of ancient Persia, 155,404
·    In 2005 the British Museum signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding in China, the first cultural agreement between a British institution and the National Museum of China. The agreement was signed in September in the presence of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the Great Hall of the People. The Memorandum sets out a series of long-term collaborations with Chinese museums between 2008 and 2012. The first fruits of this collaboration are two British Museum touring exhibitions currently in China, Treasures of the World: the British Museum after 250 year’ in Beijing and Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria from the British Museum’ in Shanghai.
·    Morgan Stanley is one of the world’s largest diversified financial services companies and maintains leading market positions in its three primary businesses – securities, investment management and credit services.  The firm has a long tradition of supporting significant cultural events and is delighted to be sponsoring this important and insightful exhibition on China.

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