Venue: Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle
Dates: 5 January – 18 March and 16 July – 26 September 2020    

Treasures of China opened with a special weekend of events to mark the Chinese New Year on 24 January 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic closed the museum and exhibition earlier than planned on 18 March 2020, however we were able to reopen the exhibition on 16 July 2020 The exhibition closes on 26 September 2020 and has welcomed over 7,000 visitors so far. 

A major new exhibition explores the fascinating history and stunning art of the Chinese Dynasties, from around 1000 BC to 1900 AD. Rarely seen treasures of embroidery, porcelain, jade, silk and other precious items brought together to highlight the splendour of Imperial China.  

The exhibition is supported by items on loan from Durham University Oriental Museum, whose impressive collections have been granted Designated Collection status in recognition of their national and international importance. Loans include stunning, intricately carved Qing Dynasty ivory wrist rests and dragon topped scholar seals.   

Items from the Tullie House collection help to introduce visitors to the fascinating history, symbolism, lives and deaths of people of Imperial China, exploring how this long history continues to shape Chinese culture and the world today. 

The exhibition is divided into four main sections:  

  • An introductory section gives an overview of each Dynasty;  
  • ‘Splendour and the Imperial Court’ explores the role of status, scholarship and symbolism using a magnificent array of extraordinary objects;
  • ‘Tourism and the Silk Road’ explores the back and forth influence of trade and tourism;
  • The final section introduces modern and contemporary art that highlights the importance in Chinese culture of honouring and acknowledging the past. 

‘Treasures of China’ is Tullie House’s latest partnership initiative with organisations focussed on Chinese culture. Support from the Lancaster University Confucius Institute over the past two years has already enabled Tullie House to stage two successful Chinese New Year events in Carlisle city centre featuring performances from world-class Chinese performers and colourful parades through the city. A beginners’ Chinese language course and informal China Cafe are set to continue in the new year with two staff members seconded from the Confucius Institute. A special life drawing event inspired by both the human body and Chinese symbolism will also accompany the exhibition programme.