The BP exhibition

50 years that
changed China

18 September 2014 –
5 January 2015


Exhibition closed

Supported by BP BP logo

★★★★★  ‘magnificent’  The Telegraph

★★★★  ‘spectacular’  The Times

★★★★  ‘a sparkling show’  London Evening Standard

Watch the exhibition trailer

Explore beautiful objects from China in this major exhibition

A powerful dynasty

The fifty years between 1400 and 1450 saw China’s Ming dynasty establish Beijing as the capital and build the world-famous Forbidden City. The emperors who ruled this vast swathe of territory used princes to control the regions, and many of the exhibition’s treasures originated from those imperial and princely courts.

A world of global trade and influence

China was a global superpower thoroughly connected with the outside world. Official missions led by Zheng He journeyed as far as East Africa, India and Arabia. The objects brought back from these voyages influenced Chinese artists, and they created some of the most beautiful objects and paintings ever made.

Exquisite objects never seen before

New excavations over the past ten years have unearthed a wealth of new treasures, never before seen in the UK. Spectacular objects in the exhibition include exquisite porcelain, gold, jewellery, furniture, paintings, sculptures and textiles. These are drawn from museums across China and the rest of the world, as well as the British Museum’s own collection.

Art Exhibitions China – principal Chinese contributor


These include a fabulous presentation sword, exquisite porcelain, and a silk scroll painting of the great imperial palace in Beijing.

See highlight objects 


Red lacquer vase

See some of the key moments in Ming China in the period AD 1400-1450, alongside notable events from the rest of the world.

Explore the timeline  


beaten gold head-dress

Discover examples of outstanding craftsmanship from the exhibition

Find out more about some of the objects on display, such as this headdress made of beaten gold, in materials from lacquer to cloisonné.

See more on Tumblr 

Recommend this exhibition