SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The Asian Art Museum kicks off its 10th anniversary in San Francisco’s Civic Center with an exhibition from one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in modern times. China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy will be on view February 22 – May 27, 2013.
The exhibition features 120 rare objects from the great tomb complex of China’s First Emperor (259-210 BCE), including 10 life-size terracotta figures—the maximum number of figures permitted outside China in a single exhibition.
Captivating the world since its discovery in 1974, the First Emperor’s tomb complex is one of the largest burial sites ever constructed. Estimated at nearly 250,000 square feet—or more than four American football fields—it includes a scale replica of the emperor’s imperial palace, complete with stables, offices, an armory and even a zoo. Ancient historians also described “flowing rivers” of mercury, of which trace amounts have recently been confirmed by scientists.
Perhaps most impressive are the estimated 8,000 terracotta figures excavated to date, including warriors of all ranks (all individually constructed, no two faces are alike), acrobats, musicians and horses. The tomb complex took 700,000 laborers nearly 40 years to build.
In 1994, the museum, then located in Golden Gate Park, was among the first to present the terracotta warriors to a U.S. audience. The 2013 exhibition offers a new generation of visitors the rare chance to view the clay figures up close. Visitors will also discover new secrets from the tomb, with more information than ever before on the First Emperor, his reign, and his quest for immortality.
“Celebrating 10 years in our Civic Center home calls for something extraordinary,” said Jay Xu, executive director, Asian Art Museum. “In China, history is being unearthed. Bringing a chapter of this epic story to San Francisco—with 10 life-size sculptures from one of the most significant discoveries of our time—is a great way to commemorate this occasion.”
The exhibition was organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau and Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, People’s Republic of China.